updated 12/20/2010 11:47:31 AM ET 2010-12-20T16:47:31

S&P 500 companies more than doubled their stock repurchases in the third quarter.

While many businesses held off on buybacks during the recession, repurchases appear to be on the rise again now that signs are emerging that economic conditions are improving.

Standard & Poor's says the buybacks surged to $79.56 billion in the third quarter from $34.85 billion a year earlier, making it the fifth straight quarter of increased repurchases.

Information technology companies, including Microsoft Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp., made up 28.6 percent of all buybacks, while health care companies repurchased less stock than in the prior-year period.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Exxon Mobil Corp. also made large buybacks in the quarter.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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