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Market Wrap-Up for Feb.26 (AAPL, HD, M, MO, LO, CBRL, more)

As traders nervously watch the action overseas with the Italy elections, Federal reserve chairman Ben Bernanke was giving politicians in Washington an update of what kind of state the economy is in — and possible hints of future fed policy. The consensus from traders today certainly was positive, but again this follows a recent bout of selling for the indices.

The early signal was certainly a positive one for the markets with strong earnings helping lift shares of Cracker Barrel (CBRL), Macy’s (M), and Home Depot (HD), which also raised its dividend. Positive Wall Street analyst chatter also helped lift stocks like International Paper (IP) and Stanley Black & Decker (SWK). On the downside, tobacco names like Lorillard (LO) and Altria Group (MO) lagged following some cautious analyst commentary. Apple (AAPL) shares rallied on rumors the company may announce a stock split at tomorrow’s annual shareholder gathering.

Odds of Employment Troubles Only Rise as The Years Go By

With plenty of data out about those in the 50+ age group see the longest wait times in landing a new job, you can only expect to face plenty of employment headwinds as you get older. The economic cycle tends to go through many phases. There are times when corporate America tends to eliminate high-paying white collar jobs. Many of us probably know someone that went through this trend in the late 80′s and especially in recent years following the financial industry implosion.

There’s that phase, followed by consolidation concerns. Companies get acquired, and in many cases job cuts tend to follow fast and furious. A worker spends years getting promoted, salary increases as responsibilities grow, and suddenly they are on the chopping block.

Public companies face enormous pressures to keep profit margins as wide as possible. As we have seen for the bulk of the recent market rally, cutting expenses and fixed costs (labor) has been what has kept a decent number of balance sheets looking favorable in Wall Street’s eyes. Just today, J.P. Morgan (JPM) announced it will be cutting 4,000 banking jobs!

With ever-changing technologies, some industries have become ripe for major changes. For some this could be a tsunami of bad news if one does not possess a specific skill-set to be able to adapt to ever-changing needs of employers today.

There are ways to ease the potential of being a statistic (laid off at an older age). One is by investing smartly as early as possible, helping grow a nice nest egg. Assets that produce income are a key source of helping one build long-term wealth and when you factor in the beauty of compound interest, dividend stocks are a big factor in achieving some sort of financial security in the years to come. You can also become an entrepreneur, understanding there is great risk in doing so. But if you have the skills and desire to succeed, the upside can be magnificent.

I will constantly remind everyone who reads this newsletter to pay attention to everything that is happening in their workplace, because we never know when the inevitable tap on the shoulder may come. Getting blindsided in your career is probably the biggest financial risk we all have. Be prepared for change as change will just about be the case for most of us.

Dividend Stock Removed from Recommended List Today

Be sure to check out today’s name we removed from our recommended list if you did not read this morning’s e-mail alert.

Our 2013 Dividend Stock Guide Has Arrived!

Our new members-only eBook has just been released! This 250-page guide to investing in 2013 contains a concise economic forecast for next year, including full previews for 60 big-name stocks! Be sure to head over to Premium and download it and get your game plan in place for all good things dividend-related in 2013!

Income, Income, Income

At, we maintain our focus on the best income-producing investments the markets have to offer during time of heightened volatility. We want to make sure we have only the most pullback-resistant names on our Best Dividend Stocks List. Also, if we see the market putting in what looks like a decent bottom, we will be prepared to scale up the list of stocks we like. Stay tuned and be sure to look for Premium member alerts along the way. Don’t count on the government or your employer to set you up for a remarkable retirement. Take control, do your own research, and achieve your goals yourself!

Go Beyond This Newsletter

We know many of you enjoy reading the daily newsletter, but remember that with our Premium service, the newsletter is just one small component of what we offer. Here are the “Big Three” benefits of our Premium service:

- The Best Dividend Stocks List is used by tens of thousands of investors to help build their own portfolios.

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- Finally, we offer the most complete and easy-to-use dividend data on the web. Many subscribers use this data as part of a “Dividend Capture” trading strategy, but long-term investors can use it to keep track of impending payouts. Just visit our Ex-Dividend Calendar for a complete outlook on which companies will be paying out soon.

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Thanks for reading everybody. I’ll see you tomorrow!

Be sure to visit our complete recommended list of the Best Dividend Stocks, as well as a detailed explanation of our ratings system here.

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