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Investors celebrate dividends rise

Research has suggested that dividends among British firms rose by nearly 20 per cent last year.

Capita Registrars and Exchange Data International said that payments reached a record £67.8 billion during the year - an increase of just over 19 per cent.

It was the first time in three years that the yearly shareholder return had increased. Capita said it was an indication of the financial clout of many major firms.

It is thought investors will have welcomed the news, particularly the four-fold increase in "special dividend" payments. These saw firms use money they had built up in recent years to offset wider economic concerns.

Capita Registrars chief executive Charles Cryer said: "Record dividends are providing a real bright spot for investors against a very gloomy backdrop of crisis in the eurozone and a stalling economic recovery in the UK.

"We are optimistic dividends will make further progress in 2012, unless the eurozone sinks deeper towards collapse and leads companies to retrench at home."

Copyright Press Association 2012

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