September was the worst month for dividends since Standard & Poor's began tracking them in 1956, and that's spelling tougher times for retirees and other income investors.

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September was the worst month for dividends since Standard & Poor’s began tracking them in 1956, and that’s spelling tougher times for retirees and other income investors.

Of the roughly 7,000 companies that S&P tracks, 138 cut their payouts during the third quarter. That doesn’t even count Bank of America’s Monday announcement that it was halving its dividend, dropping it from the S&P 500’s second-biggest payer to its fifth.

The cuts over the third quarter took $22.5 billion out of the pockets of investors, according to S&P senior index analyst Howard Silverblatt.

Looking down from above

The economy is tanking, but things may not look so bad from the cushy, leather seat of a private jet.

The business-jet market is still growing: JPMorgan estimates the industry’s total deliveries will rise by 21 percent in 2008 and by another 21 percent in 2009. The average asking price for a used business jet, meanwhile, rose 1.7 percent to $15.7 million in September from the previous month.

The industry is benefiting from a more international market, as wealthy customers in developing countries are helping to offset losses from the United States and other developed nations.

But the outlook isn’t all bright for the industry. Demand historically has lagged U.S. corporate-profit trends by two years. With the economy now foundering, the business-jet industry likely will see deliveries flatten in 2010 and contract in 2011, JPMorgan analyst Joseph Nadol III estimates.

Goldman Sachs analyst Richard Safran, meanwhile, says the mood at the National Business Aviation Association meeting last week in Orlando, Fla., was “more somber.”

Remember then?

The Dow Jones industrial average fell below 9,000 on Thursday for the first time since Aug. 6, 2003. That was the day Arnold Schwarzenegger went on “The Tonight Show” and announced his candidacy for the governorship of California. It was also four months before U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein.

The Associated Press