Market Wrap-Up for Apr.16 (C, MAT, GCI, RS, CAT, VNO, more)

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A better-than-expected retail sales number gave part of the market some firepower this morning, but we did see selling in momentum-based higher-beta stocks (Apple, Priceline, Google, etc.). Speaking of retail sales, I have some interesting color on that further below.

We are about to kick off earnings season big-time this week, and we started with a few names already today. Citigroup ( C ) closed higher on its earnings beat . Meanwhile Mattel ( MAT ) missed estimates , as did Gannett ( GCI ), and both stocks ended the day lower on that news.

Shares of Reliance Steel ( RS ) were up on news the company raised earnings guidance. Elsewhere, Wall Street analyst upgrades had stocks like Vornado Realty Trust ( VNO ) and Caterpillar ( CAT ) moving higher.

Frugality Fatigue

You've got to love how the media justifies how and why consumers shop and spend. In a recent Bloomberg article, an economist pointed to "frugality fatigue" as the reason retail sales have seen an uptick recently. This part of the quote says it all: "…for most people alive today, it's the longest they've had to conserve financially." Oh the suffering!

Forgive me if I don't feel very sorry people living in our modern age of safe, reliable vehicles, sizable flat screen TVs, full-featured smartphones, and massive homes that our grandparents could only dream of. Any way you slice it, consumers are far better off in 2012 than they were in any previous generation.

So as much as the media likes to highlight ways for all of us to save money here and there, the truth is that spending is their number one message. Why? Advertising revenue is what pays the bills for most media companies. Maybe instead of consumers suffering from "frugality fatigue," the media is just tired of waiting for the economy to recover. Remember, the mainstream media stands to profit when people go out and spend with reckless abandon.

I'm not arguing against spending money. Actually, I believe in setting up a reward system. Human nature dictates that people react well to receiving a reward. In fact, often times we may choose not to proceed in a specific direction if there is in fact no reward for the sacrifice.

Younger people tend to delay their long-term goals of saving and investing because it is not a reward they can enjoy at the present time. So rather than saving early and often, they put it off and won't worry about it until they feel it's the proper time. Unfortunately, some never learn the lesson of saving/investing until they're already lost control of their financial destiny.

I suggest setting up a reward system so that you can enjoy a bit of the good life, all the while saving for a really good life in your later years. For most of us, our opportunities to succeed become few and far between over time, especially if we don't control our own income stream (unless you work for yourself, it's very difficult to guarantee yourself a job).

Don't deny yourself of some of those must-have privileges you see as a reward for your hard work. Working more and creating extra income to invest and spend is on strategy. Or, you can shave down your regular spending habits to free up extra cash, all the while still setting yourself up to invest and prepare for good times all throughout your life.

Whatever you reward strategy is, be careful of who the messenger is regarding your spending habits. The media certainly doesn't have all the answers.

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I hope everyone had a chance to check out our Dividend.com Premium members-only weekend articles , including new features that highlight some of the biggest winners and losers from the week that was, such as analyst upgrades/downgrades and earnings/story stocks. These articles are a great way to catch up on the week that was in the markets. We also have a rundown of how various Dividend ETFs performed on the week.

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 .



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: C , CAT , GCI , MAT , RS

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