Total deferred annuity assets grew 1.2% during the first quarter, to almost $1.97 trillion, according to LIMRA International.

Indexed annuity assets climbed 5.9%, to $109.1 billion, while variable annuity assets rose 2%, to $1.4 trillion. Fixed-rate annuity assets fell 2.3%, to $450.5 billion, according to LIMRA, Windsor, Conn.

Investment earnings amounted to 1.7% for variable annuities, 1% for fixed annuities and just 0.8% for indexed annuities.

Total individual annuity sales amounted to about $58 billion, up 2% from the total for the first quarter of 2006.

Sales of variable annuities rose 8%, to $42 billion, and sales of fixed annuities fell 12%, to less than $16 billion. Sales of fixed annuities suffered from the effects of a difficult interest rate environment, according to LIMRA.

The LIMRA fixed annuity category includes fixed deferred annuities, including both fixed-rate and indexed annuities, as well as immediate annuities and structured settlements.

Sales of indexed annuities fell 11%, to $5.7 billion.

Also contributing to the drop in fixed annuity sales was a 20% decline in deferred fixed-rate annuity sales, to $7.2 billion.

Fixed immediate annuity sales rose slightly, to $1.5 billion, up from $1.4 billion in the first quarter of 2006.

Structured settlement sales remained flat, at $1.4 billion.

LIMRA says the current annuity sales report is part of a new annuity sales report series that will track industry deferred-annuity net flows for variable, fixed-rate and indexed annuities each quarter.