There's good news and bad for investors from the latest survey of dividend trends. The good news is that £18.8bn was distributed to shareholders in the first quarter, according to Capita Registrars, which now expects payouts of over £76bn across the full year. The bad news is that one-off payouts from Cairn Energy and Vodafone accounted for a large chunk of that total, and that payouts from mid-cap companies actually fell 9 per cent. Still with Ernst & Young estimating UK plc's cash pile at £754bn, there's plenty of scope for more increases.
And it could be worse - you could be French! The socialist candidate Francois Hollande won the most votes in the presidential election there, and will face Nicolas Sarkozy in a run-off on 6 May. Mr Hollande regards global finance as another example of the perfidy of Albion, and has proposed a financial transactions tax and a 75 per cent top rate of personal tax. Or Dutch - the coalition government there is on the verge of collapse as it can't agree on budget cuts needed to stay within EU fiscal rules. Those developments are two big reasons why markets are lower today.
Back to Blighty: After six weeks immersed in company results, Simon Thompson's column is back today (and tomorrow). He kicks off with a look at the value-laden Indian film company that's heading to New York.
Finally, Cable & Wireless Worldwide is being taken over by Vodafone - a good result for long-suffering C&W shareholders. We look at what happens next if you're a C&W investor.