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Stock Buybacks Top Capex for First Time Since 2008, Citi Says

  • Buying binge has been under growing attack by politicians
  • But strategist Tobias Levkovich calls criticism ‘misplaced’

The latest proof of corporate America’s obsession with its own stock is in. But Citigroup Inc. says it’s no big deal.

Companies in the S&P 500 probably repurchased more than $800 billion of shares last year, an amount that surpassed the total they invested new or upgraded plant and equipment, data compiled by Citigroup showed. It’s the first time since 2008 that buybacks topped capital expenditures, a statistic that’s sure to draw more ire from politicians who have threatened to increase regulations on corporations buying back their own stock.