The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) is reporting 17% growth in first-quarter annuity sales. U.S. individual annuity sales increased to $58 billion during the quarter, from $50 billion during the first quarter of 2010, acording to the IRI, Washington. The IRI gets variable annuity sales data from Morningstar Inc., Chicago, and fixed annuity sales data from Beacon Research Publications Inc., Evanston, Ill. Variable annuity sales increased 23%, to $39 billion, and fixed annuity sales increased 6%, to $19 billion. Fixed annuity sales improved partly because one carrier sold more fixed annuities through banks, according to Beacon President Jeremy Alexander. LIMRA, Windsor, Conn., earlier said it believes annuity sales increased 16% during the first quarter, to $60 billion.