NEW YORK, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Dividend payments for U.S. stocks rose by $12.3 billion in the third quarter, representing an increase of 3.7 percent from the prior year and putting companies on track for a record full-year payment, S&P Dow Jones Indices wrote on Tuesday.
There were 563 increases announced in the quarter, while 65 companies decreased or suspended their dividends. Both metrics are up from the year-ago period, when 475 raised their payouts but only 44 decreased them.
“Given the number of those issuers which have a history of fourth-quarter dividend increases, 2014 should post another double-digit gain,” said Howard Silverblatt, Senior Index Analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices, adding that a record payment could “easily” be set for the year.
The weighted dividend yield for companies was 2.5 percent at the end of the third quarter, compared with 2.6 percent in the third quarter of 2013, and 2.44 percent at the end of the second quarter.
Dividend-focused exchange-traded funds dipped on Tuesday but outperformed the broader market. The Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF fell 0.8 percent to $76.38 while the iShares Select Dividend ETF was off 0.4 percent at $73.32 and the SPDR S&P Dividend ETF lost 0.7 percent to $74.44.
Index snapshot at 11:40 EDT:
* S&P 500 was falling 15.68 points, or 0.8 percent.
* Nasdaq Comp was losing 37.05 points, or 0.83 percent.
* Dow industrials was dropping 155.51 points, or 0.92 percent.
* Russell 2000 was falling 8.52 points, or 0.78 percent.
* S&P MidCap was dropping 8.67 points, or 0.64 percent.
* S&P SmallCap was losing 5 points, or 0.79 percent. (Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)