Market Wrap-Up for July 12 (QCOM, FCX, AON, AET, CLF, GS, more)

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Wall Street has done a fairly decent job the last 12-18 months painting a picture of improving economic conditions. The constant barrage of market experts breaking down various data points of "better than consensus" can be quite the racket for participants looking for facetime to promote their firm and outlook.

The jobless are in a huge struggle for extended unemployment benefits that recently ran out, while the government plays politics utilizing polls to determine how a decision to extend them will play out in the November elections. Unfortunately, the bailout of the biggest Wall Street players merely delays the inevitable tough medicine the economy was supposed to get 18 months ago. Companies have pulled back from new hires and Wells Fargo just cut nearly 4000 jobs last week, with possibly more to come when the Wachovia deal gets fully absorbed.

With these particular examples of struggles we are seeing, the climate for investing continues to be one that requires a real focus and insight that we hope to continue to bring. One thing we have learned about companies, economists and politicians over the course of an investing lifetime, and that is watch what they do and not what they say.

Looking at today's market, we are coming off a week where the markets delivered a nice gain, but once again continued to underwhelm us with the volume totals. We'd like to see stronger volume conviction on the upside days to give us a better feeling that things could be turning in the economy, as well as the corporate profits' picture. Despite our extremely cautious take on the current economic situation, we have found several stocks we like, so be sure to check out our Best Dividend Stocks list.

Wall Street analyst downgrades today pushed names like Aetna ( AET ) and Northrop Grumman ( NOC ) lower. Aon Corp's ( AON ) shares pulled back on news of the company's acquisition offer for Hewitt Associates ( HEW ). Elsewhere, commodity-related shares pulled back with U.S. Steel ( X ) , Freeport McMoran ( FCX ) and Cliffs Natural Resources ( CLF ) in the red. Qualcomm ( QCOM ) moved highe following an upgrade by Goldman Sachs ( GS ) . The market had a slight gain, but we actually had less volume on the NYSE than we had on Friday, which in the summer is usually lower than usual.

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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