Market Wrap-Up for May 17 (HPQ, WMT, HD, TJX, NYX, more)


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Momentum investors/traders continued to move the markets today as the NASDAQ index broke below its 50-day moving average earlier. Buyers started crawling back in toward the end of the day, pushing the index to close in positive territory. Dividend investors have been rewarded nicely, as many of our Best Dividend Stocks continue to push higher.

As always, we'll continue to keep Premium subscribers posted of any changes we see fit to make to our ratings.

As for today's individual movers, earnings disappointments pushed investors toward the exits on Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ ). The tech giant is expected to raise its dividend payout soon, but will still remain a low-yielding stock. TJX Companies ( TJX ) also felt some pain following a subpar earnings report.

In contrast, Home Depot ( HD ) managed somegains, as has been the trend when the home-improvement giant reports results. If you remember yesterday, competitor Lowe's ( LOW ) gave out cautious guidance and missed estimates, sending its shares lower. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart Stores ( WMT ) closed down slightly on their numbers this morning, while analyst downgrades hurt shares of NYSE Euronext ( NYX ) and fertilizer play Syngenta ( SYT ).

The debate on how valuable a college degree is continues to rage on. Bloomberg ran a headline yesterday title "U.S. College Education Isn't Worth Price, Pew Report Says." Timing is everything when it comes to survey results, so always take numbers with a grain of salt. When the economy is thriving, you'd likely see a starkly different headline like "College Graduates Make Over a $1 Million more than Non-College Graduates." The value of a college education varies from person to person based on their career goals, area of study, and amount of effort they're willing to put into their studies. Back in the 80′s when I was ready to graduate high school, the mantra was "You better go to college or you'll never amount to anything!" Today, some of these same folks are telling people to avoid the crush of student loans and build their own start-up venture instead. One extreme to another!

Before a young adult pursues a college education, they should first assess how a particular degree mixes with real-world job prospects. Graduating college no longer equates an automatic career opportunity upon completion of studies. Planning and communication are everything. Parents need to know their children well and know what they are committing their child to when it comes to a college stint.

Another popular trend lately is the growing sentiment against home ownership. Unfortunately, some people will see a headline and make a blind judgment never to buy without first crunching the numbers. Remember, real estate is a numbers game. In some geographic areas it makes more sense to rent, while in others it's better to buy.

Moving with a herd tends to have very short-term benefits (as long as you don't stay a minute too long), but usually ends with long-term pain. To draw an analogy within the stock market, many traders were chasing momentum in the late 90′s and building big gains. Unfortunately for many, the greed factor took hold and many forgot to lock in those gains. The same thing happened with real estate several years back. The profits were there for the taking, but you needed to move faster than most people are used to.

These events make for great media reporting, but do nothing to help one build long-term wealth. Business news and news in general tends to be manic and ever-changing. Issues can go from hot to cold and back to hot again within days or weeks. This pattern will like continue forever, as the media is programmed to latch onto any recent trending topics in their pursuit of the almighty ratings. It's up to you to decide whether you want to be part of a herd's thinking, or whether you will make up your own mind on what is right or wrong.

Investors should certainly keep track of current events, but the key is to filter then to find the ones that have relevance in your own life. Human nature tends for us to treat simple ideas in complicated ways. On the flip side, things that should be discussed and examined deeply tend to be glossed over without the proper due diligence. One of the knocks on my Be a Dividend Millionaire book is that it was too simple for some already-sophisticated investors. Those who were critical of the book missed the overall message of the many essential elements you must have in place to become a dividend millionaire (how to save money, proper ways to budget, how to put money to work in dividend-paying stocks, etc.). Indeed, your success depends on your ability to absorb the most information as it comes your way!

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you tomorrow! P.S. Please pass this e-mail on to someone you think can use some financial motivation as well as being kept in the financial news loop that could affect them. Thanks again!

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 Symbols: HD , HPQ , LOW , NYX , SYT

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