Dividends and buybacks among index members totaled $225.8 billion for the quarter ended June 30. This was down from a four-year high of $258 billion reported in the prior quarter. Dividend payouts were 1.7% higher quarter-over-quarter, while buybacks decreased by 21%. Buybacks reached a four-year high of $161.4 billion in the first quarter of 2016, as the depressed equity market made share prices more attractive to companies looking to reduce outstanding share counts.
S&P 500 share buybacks and dividends
Information technology, financials and consumer discretionary firms were the most active sectors during the quarter, accounting for about 60% of all buybacks. Apple and General Electric led the index constituents, buying back $10.2 billion and $8 billion, respectively. Over the trailing 12 months, Apple has spent $37 billion over the trailing four quarters, far surpassing the rest of the index.