Despite low rates, Kehrer-Limra says certificates of deposit are currently paying out more than fixed annuities, total sales of annuities in banks are holding steady, the consultant says.

The Kehrer-Jackson SM Monthly Bank Annuity Sales Survey suggests that fixed annuities, which were riding high in June 2009 with sales of $2.5 billion, are stabilizing after January’s tragic $1.1 billion in new premiums.

The past few months have seen fixed annuities waver between $1.5 billion and $1.8 billion, a far cry from where they were, but an encouraging sign considering a survey by Janet Cappelletti, Kehrer-Limra’s associate research director, rates aren’t going up any time soon. “But sales aren’t falling at nearly the same pace they were," she said, "so maybe [the spread between CD and fixed annuity rates] isn’t having such an effect.”

Meanwhile, bank sales of variable annuities, which had flat-lined at $1.1 billion for months, finally saw something of a jolt in March, albeit is slight one. Since then, variable annuity sales have hovered between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion.

To put things in perspective, while recent trends are certainly an “encouraging sign,” according to Cappelletti, overall sales of annuities are still down 21% from where they were a year ago, from $3.6 billion to $2.8 billion. However, to take lemons and make lemonade, “compared to January it’s all good news,” she said.