Variable annuities and defined-benefit plans should continue to fuel moderate growth in overall annuity sales through the year, according to a report issued by Standard & Poor's.

"The variable annuity segment is still anticipated to grow, but it may not be at its historic rate," said Kevin Ahern, a Standard & Poor's associate director who co-authored the report, released early last week. Mr. Ahern said he expects growth of 10% to 12% for 1999, spurred by group annuities.

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