It seems five quarters of decline in variable annuities compared to other years may finally be turning around. The Insured Retirement Institute announced today that the net assets of U.S. variable annuities posted an increase of 1.2 percent in year-to-year quarter comparisons. The last increase, in March 2008, was 1 percent. Total net assets topped $1.3 trillion.

Sales decreased slightly in the third quarter from $31.8 billion to $31 billion. Still, Cathy Weatherford, president and CEO of IRI, is optimistic.

“The growth in asset value from this time last year marks a significant turning point for the entire financial industry, signaling a welcome expansion of investment value as the market regains strength,” she said. “With this new data we see that annuity asset values have regained their pre-market decline values, reporting the largest worth in 15 months. We are encouraged by this progress, as it bolsters the comprehensive value of insured retirement strategies.”