Here’s what you need to know
Global dividends rose to $218.7bn in the first quarter, expanding at an underlying rate of 5.4 per cent year-on-year, according to the latest Global Dividend Index from Janus Henderson.
This was the fastest underlying increase since late 2015, and reflected the speedy transmission into company profits of an accelerating global economy.
Dividend growth was strong across most industries, and in every region of the world, except Europe, where too few companies make payments in Q1 to discern a trend.
Although underlying growth was strong, volatile special dividends were sharply lower, after reaching near record levels in Q1 2016, so on a headline basis, the global total paid in the first quarter was down 0.3 per cent year-on-year.
The fall in one-off special dividends was particularly pronounced in the US, where they were $7.0bn lower year-on-year, enough to pull the total dividends paid there down 0.7 per cent to $106.9bn.
But that disguised a rebound in the underlying growth rate in the US to 5.3, reversing a sharp slowdown that had continued throughout 2016.
The US banking sector, which used to be the richest source of US dividends before the financial crisis, is once again increasing payouts sharply, and catching up with the oil sector that has battled lower oil prices over the last two years.