Equities have been doing well, and that may have helped U.S. life insurers overcome the fact that long-term bond rates were about the same as short-term rates during the second quarter.

Andrew Kligerman, a securities analyst at UBS Investment Research, New York, has published those comments in a note on the upcoming round of second-quarter life insurance company earnings announcements.

In recent decades, long-term bonds usually pay substantially higher rates and short-term debt securities, and life insurers have grown accustomed to using high returns on long-term bonds to help make payments to holders of fixed annuities and other products offering a fixed rate of return.

This quarter, long-term rates are somewhat higher than the short-term rates, but life insurers could not profit from a gap between long-term and short-term rates during the second quarter because, during the second quarter, there was none, Kligerman writes.

Although life insurers could not benefit from high long-term bond rates, a 5.8% increase in the S&P 500 stock index may have translated into an increase in variable annuity sales, Kligerman writes.

“Other positives for the quarter include favorable levels of partnership income, normal to slightly better than expected mortality experience as well as moderate catastrophe losses,” Kligerman writes.