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(Ecofin Agency) - The 2015 Global Dividend Index published by Herderson Global Investors on Feb 22 shows that dividends have reached $1.15 trillion, 2.2% behind 2014’s results. It is the first time that the figure decreased since the study was launched seven years ago. The decrease is attributable to the dollar’s strengthening. Striping out exchange rate movements and other lesser factors, underlying dividend growth increased by 9.9%, according to the study which analyses dividends paid by the 1,200 largest firms by market capitalization at December 31st.

 

U.S. remains the “engine of global income growth” with a growth of 12.1% to $440.4 billion, thus 43% of total. U.K is the second largest contributor (14% of total) despite the 21.7% drop in dividends paid by British firms, to 107.1 billion.

 

China recorded the “first annual decrease in its history” (-1.5% to 27.9 billion)

 

In Europe, U.K. excluded, dividends paid fell 12.2% to €204.5 billion as a result of “significant exchange rate movements”.

 

Distribution by sectors revealed that the fourth of dividends paid last year was in the financial sector (+5.2%). The oil and gas industry comes second in this regard despite the 20% decrease in dividends paid.

 

For 2016, Henderson Global Investors forecasts a 1.6% increase in global dividends to $1.17 trillion as exchange rate movements are mitigated.