Shares have two huge tailwinds pushing them greater

Merchants on the NYSE, Could 3, 2021.

Supply: NYSE

It isn’t nearly earnings anymore: Dividends and heavy shopping for of exchange-traded funds are serving to shares energy ahead.

April buying and selling information is in, and it exhibits two surprises: a rise in dividends and large inflows into equities which can be even stronger than the primary three months of the yr.

Dividends are again

In April 2020, two dozen firms within the S&P 500 decreased or suspended their dividends. Extra suspensions and dividends got here later within the yr.

For April 2021, the other occurred: 33 firms within the S&P 500 introduced dividend will increase. None introduced a lower, and none suspended dividends.

Most significantly, 10 firms that had suspended dividends in 2020 started paying once more in April:

Reinstating dividends
Ross Shops
HCA Well being Care
Common Well being Providers
Freeport McMoRan
Estee Lauder
Kimco Realty
Darden Eating places
Marathon Oil

Three of them — TJX, HCA Healthcare and Freeport McMoRan — are paying greater dividends than they have been earlier than they suspended funds.

“The underside line is, a yr in the past firms had no thought what was happening,” stated Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst from S&P World Indices. “Now there may be a lot better readability, and they’re keen to place their cash the place their mouth is.”

Will it proceed? Silverblatt estimates that the general dividend payout for the S&P 500 will enhance 5% in 2021.

That may imply a payout to buyers of about $515 billion, up from $483 billion in 2020.

“That’s cash in your pocket,” Silverblatt stated informed me. “Bear in mind, when an organization pays a dividend, it’s anticipated that it’s going to preserve that dividend going. That may be a dedication from the corporate, and so they do not make that call calmly.”

Traders enthusiastic: Large rush to ETFs continues

Close to-record inflows into ESG, thematic tech and different areas are additionally supporting costs.

ETFs began the yr simply in need of $6 trillion in property beneath administration, and inflows have continued on a constant foundation each month in 2021.

In response to ETF Traits, buyers spent an additional $55 billion on equity-based ETFs in April, for a year-to-date whole of $258 billion. 2021 will definitely see a lot greater fairness inflows than 2020, when panicked buyers threw cash into bond funds.

“The cash’s coming from in all places,” stated Harry Whitton, senior vice chairman at Outdated Mission, an ETF market maker. “There are individuals nonetheless sitting at dwelling who’re placing cash into the markets. You’re seeing big curiosity in [Environmental, Social and Governance] ETFs. You’re persevering with to see cash come out of mutual funds and into ETFs as nicely.”

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