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A trader rubs his head as he looks up at informational screens while working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly before the closing of the market in New York, August 15, 2013. U.S. stocks had the biggest one-day percentage drop since late June on Thursday in higher-than-average trading volume after poor results and outlooks from Dow components Wal-Mart and Cisco.
A trader rubs his head as he looks up at informational screens while working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly before the closing of the market in New York, August 15, 2013. U.S. stocks had the biggest one-day percentage drop since late June on Thursday in higher-than-average trading volume after poor results and outlooks from Dow components Wal-Mart and Cisco.
(LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)

Surge in U.S. buybacks signals caution, but no retreat

Few issues divide investors like share buybacks – and the divisions are becoming much more apparent as companies ramp up the purchases of their own shares to near-record levels.

While that is flashing a warning sign that the bull market is getting old, the signal isn’t strong enough yet to suggest that the good times are over.