UK dividend payouts came within touching distance of £100 billion last year. At a time when many of us were trying to brave out the weak momentum that was pummelling prices across the board, payouts from income stocks actually stayed solid.

Overall, the record £99.8 billion total payout was up by 5.1 percent on 2017, according to Link Asset Services, which tracks UK dividends. That performance was driven by robust earnings growth, some special payouts that beat expectations and the effects of a fall in the value of sterling (which catalysed dividends paid in foreign currencies).

So where were the big dividend stories?

Encouragingly, there was uplift right across the market, with nine of the 10 main industry sectors seeing dividend growth in 2018. But there were some notable cases...

Over the past 18 months it’s been pretty clear that several large mining stocks have been riding a wave of stronger commodity prices. At first, this manifested in some big wins for value investors - with bargain-basement miners rebounding from cyclical lows.

From 2017 onwards, those improving conditions fed through to dividends. There has been bumper payout growth from the likes of BHP, Rio Tinto and Anglo American - which in the past have been some of the biggest dividend payers in the market. And according to the latest stats, mining was the sector that contributed most to dividend payout growth last year.

Banking stocks also did well in 2018. While it didn’t add much to the total, Royal Bank of Scotland finally reinstated a modest 2p payout during the year. It’s quite something to think that back in 2007, shortly before its near-collapse, RBS paid a whacking total dividend of 278.02p.

Another stock offering mixed news last year was British American Tobacco. On the upside, it unleashed a massive dividend hike - up around 97% on 2017 when the fourth and final quarterly payment is made in February this year. But on the downside for BATS shareholders is that the value of the group has broadly halved over the past year, down from £113 billion to £54.5 billion. That dividend hike may well have been welcomed by holders, but will that collapse in value be a longer term cause for concern?.

Looking ahead to 2019, Link is forecasting that dividends (excluding special payouts) will grow by 5.3…

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