Market Wrap-Up for Aug.1 (HUM, AET, TEVA, CAT, CVX, VZ, more)

By Staff,

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The markets' early gains quickly evaporated as a worse-than-expected ISM (manufacturing gauge) number raised fears of a possible recession. According to the data, manufacturing in the U.S. expanded at its slowest pace in two years during July, barely breaking into the "growth" level. As news of Congress having enough votes to vote on the debt ceiling resolution made its way through the afternoon session, buyers came back in to help the averages close off their lows.

Once again, we have removed two names from our Best Dividend Stocks List today. We will remain proactive when it comes to keeping only the best possible names for investors to deploy new capital into the markets.

As for the markets today, HMO's and other related healthcare names were down as investors worried about possible fallout from the debt ceiling/budget resolution as it relates to spending cutbacks. Humana ( HUM ), which reported a stellar quarter, quickly reversed early gains and is now trading lower. We are seeing other names like UnitedHealth Group ( UNH ) and Aetna ( AET ) following suit. Another healthcare-related name lower was Teva Pharmaceuticals ( TEVA ), although those shares were lower on disappointing drug study news. Leading some of the late-day charge higher were shares of Caterpillar ( CAT ), Verizon ( VZ ), and Chevron ( CVX ).

Traders are hiding in precious metals once again as the budget resolution comes closer to fruition. I am keeping an eye on the financials and so far am not seeing a ton a pressure that would make the tape destabilize even more so than it already is.

As Congress edges closer (we think anyway) to raising the debt ceiling, a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 46% of likely U.S. Voters now view most members of Congress as corrupt. That's up seven points from June and the highest finding yet recorded. Just 29% think most members are not corrupt, and another 25% are not sure. Similarly, a whopping 85% of voters think most members of Congress are more interested in helping their own careers than in helping other people. It has become obvious that pushing any sort of legislation through Congress is near impossible without the heavy interest of lobbyists being tended to. My guess is this trend will change over time. The voters will make that call and my guess is we will see more one-term stays than ever. The patience level in the U.S. has worn thin - and rightfully so.

Turning back to the topic of debt, household debt is causing stress for nearly half the country, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. The results of that survey found that one in five adults worries about debt most or all of the time. If they bought something on a credit card in the past month, more than a third say they won't pay it off when the bill comes. The increased stress represents a reversal from last fall's AP-GfK poll, which found increasing confidence about personal finances. Debt-related stress is up 17 percent from that November survey, bumping such worries back up to levels seen in 2009 and in the spring of last year. The poll found that households earning more than $75,000 had the biggest increase in debt-related stress since November. But stress levels continue to be highest within the most vulnerable groups: households that have lost jobs, people with family incomes below $20,000, single parents, and adults without high school diplomas. Married moms and adults under 30 years old showed significantly more anxiety than in the fall. About 4 in 10 people surveyed owe more than $1,000 in credit card debt, while 1 in every 10 owes $10,000 or more.

A quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson can sum up this topic - "A man in debt is so far a slave."

Whether you seek assistance from a financial planner or life coach/mentor, it is a great idea to consult someone who can call you out for what could be reckless financial habits. The sooner you embrace accountability, the easier the road to financial freedom and good decision-making becomes.

Quick note: Be sure to check out the year-to-date watchlist posts up on the site today. You can see how well many of the dividend stocks we are tracking are doing through the first seven months of 2011. As always, you can find these and other members-only articles on Premium .

I hope everyone had a chance to check out our Premium members-only weekend articles, including the new features that highlight some of the biggest winners and losers from the week that was, including 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.

Our newly-expanded dividend data is all in place now, so anyone that focuses on "Dividend Capture" strategies should have plenty of good stuff to research each day. Just check our enhanced Ex-Dividend Calendar , which is the best in the business, to search for upcoming payouts.

Speaking of dividend capture, Premium members can now access a new 9 page report we just released on the essential elements to any successful dividend capture strategy. Be sure to check it out!

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 Nasdaq, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing Stocks
Referenced Stocks: AET , CAT , CVX , HUM , TEVA

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