Despite a slight downturn in overall annuity sales, variable annuity sales have rebounded and are showing significant improvement, especially as their role as a more steadfast retirement investment has gained popularity.

Data from Morningstar and Beacon Research, compiled by the Insured Retirement Institute, suggests that third-quarter industry wide annuity sales are down about 4.3 percent from the second quarter, totaling approximately $52.9 billion.

But fixed annuity sales for the third quarter were buoyed by the strongest sales quarter ever for income annuities and steady indexed annuity sales, according to Beacon Research. Income annuity sales increased to nearly $2.4 billion in the third quarter, up 3.8 percent from about $2.3 billion in the second quarter and up 6.7 percent year over year from $2.2 billion in the third quarter of 2011.

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