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Data: Investing.com; Chart: Axios Visuals

Microsoft plans to buy back as much as $40 billion in stock and raise its dividend to 51 cents a share, the company said Wednesday. It's the third time Microsoft has authorized a package that large, following $40 billion buybacks in 2013 and in 2016.

The big picture: S&P 500 companies are again picking up the pace of buybacks after a major lull in the second quarter, with tech companies leading the way.

  • Cumulative year-to-date buybacks are now up 18% year over year, according to data from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
  • The rate of buybacks in Q2 was around 14% lower than the same quarter in 2018, and experts had been expecting the pace to continue to slow through the year.

Microsoft stock rose 1% in after-hours trading following the announcement, edging back towards its all-time high of $141.68.

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1 hour ago - World

U.S. policy shift will allow taxpayer funding for projects in West Bank settlements

Friedman (L) with Netanyahu. Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel will announce tomorrow that they are expanding three agreements on scientific cooperation to include Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Israeli and U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is a substantial policy shift for the U.S., which did not previously allow its taxpayers' money to be spent in the Israeli settlements.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Obama: Trump is "jealous of COVID's media coverage" Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse.
  2. Health: Hospitals face a crush — 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Winter threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota cases traced to three Trump campaign events.
  6. World: Putin mandates face masks.

McConnell: Confirming Amy Coney Barrett will help GOP retain Senate

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed no regrets about Judge Amy Coney Barrett's controversial confirmation, telling Politico in an interview that he believes the decision to place her on the Supreme Court just a week before the election will help Republicans retain the Senate.

Why it matters: With a week to go until Election Day, many Republicans are concerned that President Trump's unpopularity could cost them the Senate. McConnell has long viewed the transformation of the federal judiciary through the confirmation of young conservative judges as his defining legacy.