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Happy Spring! Stocks About to Get a $400 Billion Dividend Boost

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Here’s a fresh reason to celebrate the end of a lousy quarter in global equities: the new one kicks off with the potential adrenaline boost of as much as $400 billion in dividends.

“We think it is no coincidence that spring is also a seasonally strong period for equities,” Morgan Stanley strategists including Andrew Sheets wrote in a note to clients Wednesday. Up to $400 billion is set to be paid into investor accounts between March and May, they calculated. “April in particular tends to be a strong month for global equity returns.”

Stocks in Hong Kong and emerging markets show particularly strong returns in April, according to the analysis. In the world of bonds, high yield and emerging market debt also show a “spring uplift,” though a less pronounced one than in equities, the strategists wrote.

Spring is seasonally the worst time to be long Treasuries, the strategists wrote. U.S. government bonds show below-average returns from April to May, then see a better performance into the third quarter, the study showed.

Meantime, many will be happy to move past a quarter in which a strong January stock-market rally gave way to a volatility blow-up in February and a technology-led rout in recent days, along with a surge in short-term borrowing costs and pledges of further U.S. policy interest-rate hikes.

“Amid higher volatility and a dragging risk-free ‘anchor,’ this could provide some welcome temporary relief,” the Morgan Stanley team said of the coming dividend wave.


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