Bank sales of annuities may have started out the year on the wrong foot — January was down 24% from an already weak December — but they have fought back, rising 15% in February and by 28% in March, according to the Kehrer-Jackson Monthly Bank Annuity Sales Survey.

Normally a strong month, March saw $3.3 billion of annuity sales through banks. Both fixed and variable products sold well, something that Kehrer-Limra, the report's publisher, said is rare.

Fixed annuity sales totaled $1.8 billion, up 25% from February. Though this was far below February 2009's $3.9 billion in sales, it was the highest fixed annuity sales total since a spike to $2.5 billion last October.

Meanwhile, variable annuities' March sales were $1.4 billion, up 31% from February. The product's sales had not been so high since August 2008.

Bank-sold mutual funds were $5.5 billion, up 17% from February to their highest point since January 2008.

Fixed annuities got a jolt from IRA season in March, but the spread between certificate of deposit rates and annuities stopped being flat in May, when the CD rate edged above fixed annuities for the first time in the two years Kehrer-Limra has published this report.

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