Bolstered by the highest fixed annuity sales since the second quarter of 2009, industrywide annuity sales reached $57.5 billion during the third quarter of 2013, according to data from Morningstar, Inc. and Beacon Research.

Industrywide annuity sales in the third quarter of 2013 increased 5.5% from $54.5 billion in the previous quarter and an 8.7% increase from $52.9 billion in the third quarter of 2012.

Fixed annuity sales, meanwhile, totaled $22.5 billion, rising 31% from $17.1 billion in the second quarter of 2013 and 35.2% from $16.6 billion in the third quarter of 2012.

"Industrywide annuity sales are at their highest mark in two years," said Cathy Weatherford, president and CEO of the Insured Retirement Institute, which announced the sales results. "Strong sales were supported by a surge in sales of fixed annuities. From the first quarter to the third quarter, we've seen fixed annuity sales rise 50%. During this time, interest rates have increased steadily. As a result of this more favorable environment, demand for lifetime income has gone from sustaining sales to driving measurable growth across the industry."

According to Beacon Research, fixed annuity sales of $22.5 billion – the highest fixed annuity sales since the second quarter of 2009 – were supported by strong sales of all product types. Indexed annuity sales set a new record high during the third quarter, reaching nearly $10.1 billion. Indexed annuity sales rose 10.3% from $9.1 billion during the second quarter of 2013 and 15.1% from $8.7 billion in the third quarter of 2012.

Income annuity sales also set a new quarterly record. Income annuity sales topped $2.8 billion, a 10.1% increase from nearly $2.6 billion in the second quarter of 2013 and an 18.6% increase from nearly $2.4 billion in the third quarter of 2012.

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