Second-quarter annuity sales jumped 9.9 percent to nearly $54.5 billion from $49.6 billion in the first quarter.

On the flip side, although the Insured Retirement Institute reported that annuity sales are up, they are still slightly down, 1.4 percent, from the $55.3 billion in sales in the second quarter of 2012.

Fixed-annuity sales rose to their highest quarterly level since the fourth quarter of 2011, topping $17.14 billion. That was an increase of 14.6 percent from just under $15 billion in the first quarter and up 0.2 percent from the $17.1 billion in the second quarter of 2012, according to Beacon Research.

Sales of variable annuities topped $37.3 billion in the second quarter, according to Morningstar, which was a 7.8 percent increase from the first quarter but a 2.2 percent drop from the second quarter of 2012.

“In previous quarters, demand for lifetime income was balancing headwinds from low interest rates,” said Cathy Weatherford, IRI President and CEO. “Now with rates rising, we are seeing sales swing upwards, with fixed sales reaching their highest mark in six quarters and variable annuity sales at their highest level in a year. With VA total net assets reaching a new record high and variable annuity net sales showing marked improvement, overall it was a solid quarter for the industry.”

According to Beacon Research, sales of all types of fixed annuities increased from first-quarter levels. Sales of market-value adjusted annuities rose 34.9 percent; indexed annuity sales were up by 17.1 percent; and income annuity sales were up by 16.9 percent. For the fixed annuity market, there were $9.4 billion in qualified sales and $7.7 billion in non-qualified sales during the second quarter.

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“Rising interest rates, along with the steepest yield curve in nearly two years, helped drive second quarter’s fixed annuity sales growth,” Beacon Research President Jeremy Alexander said. “Strong demand and new product introductions boosted deferred income annuity sales nearly 40 percent from first quarter.”

According to Morningstar, variable annuity total net assets increased by a fraction of a percent from the previous quarter. Though only a slight increase, the upward movement marked the seventh-consecutive quarterly increase in variable annuity total net assets, which stand at more than $1.7 trillion. This is a 10.1 percent increase from almost $1.6 trillion in the second quarter of 2012. Within the variable annuity market, there were $23.8 billion in qualified sales and $13.5 billion in non-qualified sales during the quarter.

“Net sales improved significantly in the second quarter despite continued large outflows from retirement plans and companies that have exited the industry over the past several quarters,” said Frank O’Connor, product manager for Morningstar Annuity Research Center.

Related story: Q1 indexed annuity sales down