Bank holding companies increased their earnings from the sale of annuities to $1.33 billion in first half 2009, up 1.7% from $1.31 billion in the same period last year, according to a report.

However, BHCs’ annuity fee and commission income in the second quarter fell compared to second quarter 2008, to $593.1 million, down 9.1% from $652.6 million in the same period last year, according to the Michael White-ABIA Bank Annuity Fee Income Report. The report, compiled by Michael White Associates, Radnor, Pa., is sponsored by the American Bankers Insurance Association, Washington.

Of 932 BHCs, 379 or 41% were selling annuities during first half 2009, MWA reports. Annuity commissions and fees constituted 18% of their total insurance sales volume of $7.4 billion.

The biggest banks were by far the most active in the annuity market, with 72% of BHCs with over $10 billion in assets earning fees and commissions from the products, MWA reports. BHCs in this asset class produced 95% of total bank annuity income reported. Their total first-half annuity income was $1.26 billion, up 3.7% from $1.21 in first half 2008.