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Buybacks get costly for S&P 500 CEOs burning cash

Crux of issue is falling earnings - six straight quarters of negative growth for S&P 500 firms

Cash fell 26% at Google parent Alphabet Inc from a year ago.

The largest losses are in oil companies like Chesapeake Energy Corp, where reserves of US$2.1 billion plunged to just US$4 million over the past year.

LITTLE by little, the corporate cushion is shrinking. Pressured by a year-and-a- half of weakening profits and splurges on buybacks and dividends, the once-towering piles of money at American companies have started to topple. Cash and equivalents slipped to a median US$860 million at S&P 500...

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