S&P Dow Jones Indices said in a late December 2013 press release that share repurchases for S&P 500 stocks had reached the highest 12-month level since the fourth quarter of 2007.
S&P 500 companies spent $128.2 billion on stock buybacks in the third quarter, an increase of 8.6 percent from the prior quarter. Over the 12-month period, buybacks reached $445.3 billion, an increase of 15 percent from the 12-month period ending with the second quarter of 2013, the press release said.
Euronext N.V. in December launched two new indexes that provide exposure to 75 of the largest companies on the Amsterdam stock exchange.
The new indexes are the AEX All-Tradable Index and the AEX All-Tradable Alternative Weighting Index, and both are weighted based on free-float market capitalization.
The former’s constituents have a cap of 15 percent per stock, and this is reviewed annually.
The Japan Exchange Group and Nikkei Inc. launched a jointly developed index in early January.
The stock exchange group and the newspaper publishing company teamed up to create the JPX-Nikkei Index 400. The aim is to make the Japanese market more attractive to investors compared with other traditional market-cap-weighted benchmarks like the Topix.
In a January press release, S&P Dow Jones Indices said that net dividend issuance for U.S. stocks in the fourth quarter of 2013 was up $12.7 billion. Interestingly, although S&P only recorded 885 dividend increases in the 2013 fourth quarter versus 1,266 dividend increases in the 2012 fourth quarter, the dollar amount of the dividend increase in the last quarter of 2012 was just $8.4 billion.
S&P Dow Jones Indices issued a statement announcing that all municipal bonds issued by Puerto Rico had been removed from the S&P National AMT-Free Municipal Bond Index as of Jan. 31.
S&P DJI noted in the statement that the index was designed for investability, and typically excludes the higher-risk and less liquid portions of the municipal bond market. It said Puerto Rico’s municipal bonds had been trading at prices more typical of high-yield corporate debt and exhibiting uneven liquidity.
Independent index provider Solactive launched the Solactive Diversified USD Covered Bond Index in January. The benchmark is made up of covered bonds and is intended to provide exposure to a diversified pool of U.S.-dollar-denominated international bonds that offer high credit quality and attractive yield potential.
In December, the European Commission levied record fines on five banks and one U.K.-broker for rate rigging following statements in June 2013 that those involved in the market abuse would be subject to penalties.
According to press reports, Deutsche Bank, RBS, J.P. Morgan, Societe Generale, Citigroup and U.K.-based broker RP Martin were hit with fines totaling €1.7 billion for their involvement in the rate-rigging scandal that broke last year.
S&P Dow Jones Indices announced a range of changes that it was making to its S&P 100, S&P 500, MidCap 400 and S&P SmallCap 600 indexes, to be effective as of Dec. 20, 2013.
The most notable of the changes was the inclusion of social networking company Facebook in the S&P 500 and S&P 100 indexes. The new addition displaced The Williams Companies Inc. from the S&P 100, but it remains in the S&P 500. Meanwhile, Teradyne Inc. was demoted from the S&P 500 to the S&P MidCap 400.
WisdomTree Investments closed out 2013 with a bang, launching six funds in one day in mid-December. Five of the new funds listed on the Nasdaq and are clearly aimed at quelling investors’ fears of a rising interest rate related to the Federal Reserve’s announced $10 billion tapering of its economic stimulus.