The slowing world economy is starting to take its toll on dividend payouts, a report stated yesterday.
It found that US$3.8 billion (S$5.3 billion) of dividends was paid out in Singapore in the second quarter, US$500 million or 11.6 per cent lower than in the same period last year.
But Singapore's underlying dividend growth - which adjusts for special dividends, changes in currency, timing effects and index changes - rose by 17.7 per cent.
Total dividends paid globally during the quarter came to US$513.8 billion, 1.1 per cent higher than a year ago, despite growth being held back by the greenback's strength.
While this was a new record, it was also the slowest rate of increase in more than two years.
Asset management group Janus Henderson, which compiled the index, said this was in line with its forecast, which had already factored in slower growth this year.
Globally, underlying dividend growth was 4.6 per cent, slightly below the long-run average.
The Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan, lagged behind the rest of the world, with the region's distribution of US$43.2 billion being 2.2 per cent higher on an underlying basis.
For seasonal reasons, Hong Kong dominated the second quarter, said Janus Henderson. It added that underlying growth was 2.5 per cent and that a quarter of Hong Kong companies in the index, including China Mobile, cut their dividends.
"This is a larger proportion than in all the other large markets, reflecting a slowing Chinese economy," it said.
Hong Kong's dividend payout dropped from US$19 billion to US$18 billion.
Japan registered the best performance among developed regions by paying out US$39.6 billion, 10.3 per cent higher than a year earlier.
Indonesia was a notable performer in South-east Asia, paying out US$5.5 billion for the second quarter, up by 10 per cent.
London-based Janus Henderson, which invests in global equity markets, has US$359.8 billion in assets under management.
Its dividend index uses 2009 as a base year. It takes into account the world's 1,200 biggest companies by market capitalisation, which represent 90 per cent of global dividends paid. The next 1,800 companies represent 10 per cent, making their effects on the results negligible.