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Why Companies Have Gone Sour on Stock Market
CNBC.com | February 04, 2013 | 02:58 PM EST

While retail investors pile into stocks, corporations are pulling back.

Wall Street has been salivating over the large rush of mom-and-pop money into the stock market over the past month, but not so much that they are following suit.

Continuing a six-week trend, corporate stock buybacks fell to an eight-month low last week, totaling just $17.9 billion, according to market research firm TrimTabs. Retail investors, conversely, have shifted more than $30 billion into stock-based mutual funds. (Read More: Money Pouring Into Stocks 'Is Usually a Negative Sign' )

"The decline in buybacks is worrisome because buyback volume and the S&P 500 [ .SPX 1930.67  -39.40 (-2.00%) ] have a high positive correlation," TrimTabs CEO David Santschi said in the firm's weekly liquidity report. "Companies do not seem nearly as confident as investors these days."

The retail crowd pushed the market to its best January in 16 years in a rally driven by relief that the worst-case scenario didn't come to pass in Washington's deficit-reduction negotiations, as well as modestly positive earnings reports.

Participation from average investors had been missing for much of the four-year rally after the financial crisis. Corporations provided much of the volume in the market in a continuing aggressive move toward buying back shares and pushing stock prices higher.

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