When a stock’s dividend yield is over 4.5 percent, with deep cash-flow like Merck’s — and low debt to equity, all in a steady Fortune 100 stock — traders begin to trade in and out of it, simply to clip the fat dividend. It looks like that happened on Friday, with 44 million shares changing hands on the NYSE. A normal day would be around 15 million shares.
Now we wait for the reversing volumes, post the record date. [Older background, on this, from our site, here.]