Variable annuity sales showed some improvement in the first quarter, a positive sign for an industry that has been slumping.

Sales of variable annuities topped $34.6 billion in the first quarter, a 0.6 percent increase over the fourth quarter of 2012, according to Morningstar. Variable annuity net sales also showed improvements in the quarter, returning to positive and reaching $900 million after posting a negative $599 million in the fourth quarter.

Industry-wide annuity sales for the quarter reached nearly $49.6 billion, down 2 percent from $50.6 billion the previous quarter and down 6.6 percent from $53.1 billion in the first quarter of 2012.

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