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S&P 500 companies give cash back, take stock off the table

Data from S&P Dow Jones Indices show that S&P 500 companies bought back $809 billion in stock during 2018, while paying out $114 billion as dividends. Cash outlays to investors accelerated in 2018, especially in the highly volatile first and fourth quarters, as depressed share prices made buybacks the more attractive option.

On a year-over-year basis, buybacks grew at an average quarterly rate of 14%, while dividends grew at a rate of 8% since March 2014.