Individual annuity sales fell to about $55 billion in the third quarter, down 17% from the total for the third quarter of 2008.

Researchers at LIMRA International, Windsor, Conn., have published those figures in LIMRA’s latest U.S. individual annuities quarterly sales survey.

Total U.S. individual annuity sales for the first three quarters amounted to about $182 billion, down 8% from the total for the comparable period in 2008, LIMRA says.

Variable annuity sales have been flat for two straight quarters, despite gains in the stock market, according to Joe Montminy, research director for LIMRA’s annuity research. “While VA sales historically follow market trends, we believe that the decline in 1035 exchanges is impacting current VA growth.”

VA sales totaled about $32 billion in the third quarter, down 16% from the third quarter of 2008.

Fixed annuity sales fell 19%, to about $23 billion.