Global dividends grew at the fastest rate since 2015 in the first quarter of this year

Mark Sands
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Global dividends were up 5.4 per cent year on year in the first quarter (Source: Getty)

Global dividend growth accelerated in the first quarter of this year, growing at the fastest rate since last 2015.

Global dividends reached $218.7bn (£169.7bn) for the three month period, up by 5.4 per cent year-on-year, according to figures from Janus Henderson.

Growth was weakest in Europe, in part because few companies make first quarter payments to discern a trend.

However, special dividends actually dipped slightly after reaching near record levels at the start of 2016, tumbling 0.3 per cent year-on-year.

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And UK dividends fell 5.3 per cent year-on-year in headline US dollar terms, dragged down by sterling. Adjusting for the currency travails, underlying growth was 7.1 per cent, largely driven by mining group BHP Billiton, which slashed its dividend in 2016.

Janus Henderson is forecasting 3.9 per cent underlying growth for the whole year, equating to $1.2 trillion, up by $18bn on the previous estimate.

The firm's head of global equity income Alex Crooke said: “2017 has started on a really encouraging note for income investors, at least if you look beyond one-off special dividends. Growth was broadly based across many sectors and countries too.

“The outlook for the world economy looks better at present than at any time in the last few years. That means companies can grow profits and dividends at a faster pace.”

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