GE hikes dividend 12 percent, boosts stock buyback plan

Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:57am EST

Dec 14 (Reuters) - General Electric Co on Friday raised its dividend by 12 percent, to a 19 cent quarterly payout, starting in January.

The largest U.S. conglomerate did not follow on the heels of peers including Caterpillar Inc and Legg Mason Inc , who have pushed up their dividend payments into December, with an eye towards avoiding any higher tax rates that could take effect as a result of Washington budget negotiations.

GE's board authorized the company to buy back another $10 billion in shares - in line with the company's goal of buying back all the additional shares it issued in 2008 to raise cash in the face of the financial crisis.

"Returning cash to our shareholders remains a top priority," said Chief Executive Jeff Immelt.

GE shares were up 1 cent at $21.63 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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