New variable annuity sales slipped slightly in the third quarter of 2010, to $33.6 billion from $33.9 billion in the second quarter, but they were still up 9.9% from the $30.6 billion in the third quarter of 2009. New sales were up 7.7% through the first three quarters of 2010 to $98.76 billion from $91.69 billion for the same period in 2009. That is still down 17% from the new sales reported in the first nine months of 2008 ($119 billion).

On the other hand, assets under management increased for the third quarter, buoyed by positive market returns. As of Sept. 30, variable annuity assets totaled $1.43 billion, a 7.5% increase over assets of $1.32 billion as of June 30. Assets in equity accounts, which currently comprise 56% of all variable annuity assets, grew 11.1% from second-quarter assets, in line with the 10.7% increase in the S&P 500 over the same period.

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