U.S. individual annuity sales were 5.7% higher in the fourth quarter of 2010 than in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to the Insured Retirement Institute.

The IRI, Washington, has published that figure in a report based on data from Beacon Research Publications Inc., Evanston, Ill., and Morningstar Inc., Chicago.

Total individual annuity sales increased to $53 billion, from $51 billion, according to IRI.

Traditional fixed annuity sales fell 14%, to $17 billion, but sales of indexed annuities increased to $7.9 billion, from $6.8 billion, and indexed annuities accounted for about 48% of all fixed annuity sales.

Income annuity sales increased to $1.9 billion, from $1.8 billion.

Variable annuity sales increased to $38 billion, from $32 billion.

The percentage of variable assets invested in stocks fell 1.5 percentage points, to about 47%.

Other annuity sales coverage from National Underwriter Life & Health: