Annuity vendors have very little to cheer about so far this year. Annuity sales in the second quarter of 2012 totaled $57 billion, down 8% from the year-ago quarter, according to LIMRA's second quarter 2012 U.S. Individual Annuities Sales survey.

Sales were off for the first half of the year, as well. For the first six months of 2012, annuity sales totaled $111.8 billion, down 8% from the year-ago period.

"The current economic conditions remain challenging for most insurers, driving overall annuity sales down," Joseph Montminy, LIMRA's assistant vice president of Annuity Research, said in a statement.

The one bright spot were indexed annuities, which drew $8.6 billion in sales in the second quarter, and $16.7 billion in the first six months of 2012, up 6% and 10%, respectively, from the year-ago period.

Variable annuity sales totaled $38.6 billion in the second quarter, a 5% decline from the second quarter in 2011.  They totaled $75.4 billion for the first six months of 2012, down 10% from a year ago. 

Fixed annuities registered an even bigger decline in sales.  In the second quarter, fixed annuity sales dropped 14% to $18.4 billion when compared to the same quarter one year ago.  Sales of fixed annuities for the first six months totaled $36.4 billion, a 12% decline from the $41.3 billion in sales during the first half of 2011. 

Of the different types of fixed annuities, book-value annuities took the hardest fall, bringing in a meager $5.5 billion in sales in the second quarter, down 34% from the same quarter a year ago. For the first half of 2012, book-value annuities totaled $11.3 billion, a 33% drop from 2011.

The top annuity writers in the second quarter were Jackson National Life, MetLife and Prudential Annuities, each registering more than $10 billion in sales.