Standard & Poor's said that the number of companies that cut dividend payments in the first quarter fell dramatically from the same period last year.
Of the 7,000 companies tracked by S&P, 48 lowered their dividend payments for the first quarter. That compares to 367 companies that cut dividends in the first quarter of 2009 — an all-time high.
Despite the improvement, S&P said the broader dividend market won't return to the levels of 2007 and early 2008 until at least 2013.
Howard Silverblatt, senior analyst at S&P, said the recovery will be "slow and contingent upon continued economic progress and stabilization in the jobs market."
In the first quarter of 2010, 399 companies raised their dividends, up from the 283 companies that did so for the same period last year.
By comparison, in the first quarter of 2007, 740 companies increased their dividends while only 19 companies cut them.
S&P also found that the net change in the indicated dividend rate was $6.4 billion, compared to the $43.8 billion in reductions for the first quarter of 2009.
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