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Agilent approves $500M for buybacks, ups dividend

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -- Agilent Technologies Inc. said Thursday that it is increasing its quarterly dividend 20 percent, to 12 cents, and may buy back up to $500 million of its common stock.

The new buyback program is for fiscal 2013, which runs through October. Buybacks can boost a company's earnings per share and offsets the impact of paying employees with stock.

The maker of scientific instruments previously paid a 10-cent dividend. The company will start paying the new dividend in April.

Shares of Agilent, which is based in Santa Clara, Calif., rose 57 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $43.62 in morning trading.