U.S. stocks have been able to hit fresh highs this year despitea dearth of demand from a key source of buying.

Share repurchases by American companies this year are down 20%from this time a year ago, according to Andrew Lapthorne, SocieteGenerale's global head of quantitative strategy.

Ultra-low borrowing costs had encouraged large firms to issuedebt to buy back their own stock, thereby providing a tailwind toearnings-per-share growth.

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