The economy? Who cares? The stock market is up!

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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Continuing the roaring bull market of the past five years depends on companies prioritizing shareholders over the broader economy, a trend likely to continue.

Preserving capital and rewarding shareholders through buybacks and dividends has been a hallmark of corporate behavior since the market hit its low point in March 2009.

So while economic growth since then has been halting, profits have escalated through cost-cutting, balance sheets have swelled and stocks have surged more than 160 percent.

From the corporate perspective, it's been a winning strategy.