The U.S. equity markets have been underperforming for clients and other investors, and in a look back at last year, it was worse for those focused on dividends. If you had to explain the recent uninspired performance in a single word, it would be “energy.”

While the S&P 500 lost 0.73%, a negligible decline, the energy sector tumbled 23.55% according to figures from S&P Dow Jones Indices. In fact, if your clients held the S&P excluding its energy stocks, they would have been up 1.37% for the year.

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