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.
The 12-month high for buybacks during the period for which S&P DJI keeps records was $589.1 billion at the end of the fourth quarter of 2007.
The information technology sector has typically been a major driver of buyback totals, but only represented 25.1 percent of the total due to a smaller contribution from Apple. The sector had represented 31.5 percent of buybacks in the second quarter.
However, Apple paid out the most for stock buybacks in the third quarter at $4.9 billion. Pfizer, Halliburton, Qualcomm and Johnson & Johnson rounded out the top five, each spending more than $3 billion to repurchase shares.