Financial institutions sold $4.9 billion of annuities in April, up 48% from the April 2007 total, according to Kehrer-LIMRA.

Sales of fixed annuities in banks rose to $3 billion, from $1.3 billion, while bank sales of variable annuities dropped to $1.9 billion, from $2 billion.

The recent shakiness of the stock market is driving many bank customers to the relative safety of fixed products, according to Greg Cicotte, national sales manager at Jackson National Life Distributors L.L.C., the survey sponsor.

Jackson National is a unit of Prudential P.L.C., London.

As of the end of April, fixed annuity sales had exceeded VA annuity sales for 3 straight months.

Before February, VA sales had exceeded fixed annuity sales for 16 consecutive months, according to Kehrer-LIMRA, a division of LIMRA International, Windsor, Conn.

The ratio of fixed annuity sales to variable annuity sales rose to $1.58 to $1, from $0.65 to $1 to in April 2007, Kehrer-LIMRA reports.