Buybacks are expected to come in full force in the fourth quarter, poised to give the volatile stock market a big boost. Corporations are already on pace to repurchase more than $1.1 trillion of U.S. stock this year, which will go down as the most ever in the history of the stock market, according to data from Goldman Sachs. There have been signs of heightened activity as of late, the Wall Street firm said. "Last week was a VERY active week on our buyback desk despite still being in blackout period," John Flood, a trader at Goldman Sachs, said in a note. Publicly traded companies have a policy that restricts trading in their own shares beginning two weeks prior to the quarter end, through 48 hours after earnings are publicly released. Most of the current buybacks are executed through Rule 10b5-1, which allows companies to set up a predetermined plan to buy back stock. Companies are trying to take advantage of lower valuations amid 2022's sell-off. The S & P 500 is down 20% this year as investors worried that the Federal Reserve's aggressive rate hikes could tip the economy into a recession and take down profits. Companies could also be rushing to buy back shares to avoid the new 1% excise tax on buybacks in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2022. "I think it will be heavy quarter, as we see Q1,'23 purchases accelerated into Q4 to avoid the new tax, and cover more employee options," Howard Silverblatt, S & P's senior index analyst, told CNBC. Buybacks have been a popular way for companies to return cash to shareholders, competing with dividends. Corporate America also uses share repurchases to improve earnings per share, since buybacks reduce the share count. Repurchases took a hit during the depth of the pandemic as companies focused on conserving cash, cutting costs and managing liquidity risk stemming from the crisis.