Rates paid on annuities sold through banks continued to slide downward to an average of 4.74% by mid-November, according to Kenneth Kehrer Associates.

That is a new low, and comes on the heels of last month's record low of 4.81% -- the lowest rate since the Princeton, N.J., firm began tracking annuity prices in May 1988.

Rates have slumped every month since June, falling from 5.13% in mid-July to 5.05% in mid-August and 4.93% in mid-September.

The rate paid to new annuity investors was off, too. The average bonus rate at mid-month was 5.57%, down from 5.60% in mid-October. This rate also has slid since summer. In July, the average rate for new investors was 6.01%. The highest paying bonus annuities, the Ford Life Classic and USG Life Flex III, now pay 6%.

Just 3 Annuities Raised Rates

Rates on 10 annuity products dropped while rates on 29 annuities remained unchanged. Just three annuities raised their rates.

Annuities are tax-deferred investment products whose rates generally react to the performance of bonds.

When bond prices fall and yields move higher -- as they did last month -- annuity rates traditionally rise. However. the change generally "takes some time," explained Cris Kehrer, a spokesperson. And the rise in bond prices has been "more like a blip than a trend," she added.

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