Market Wrap-Up for Oct.16 (JNJ, MAT, GWW, PNC, STT, more)

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We witnessed solid follow-through in today's session after yesterday's bullish close. Markets overseas were strong overnight, helping set the stage for a rise in U.S. futures. Couple that move with some positive earnings surprises, and the early bias for the averages was certainly higher.

Speaking of earnings, investors were cheering earnings results from companies such as Mattel ( MAT ), State Street ( STT ), and Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ ). On the flip side, investors were selling the headline earnings results from W.W. Grainger ( GWW ) and PNC Financial ( PNC ). Elsewhere, positive Wall Street commentary has stocks like Lorillard ( LO ) and Newmont Mining ( NEM ) gaining ground. We have seen the pattern of higher stock prices early in the earnings reporting season before, so the gains are not too surprising thus far.

As always, you can check out all our latest coverage of earnings reports, analyst moves, and much more over at The Dividend Daily .

Two Sides of the Track

Each day I drive into work, I usually come upon a point in my trip where I end up behind a school bus waiting for kids to pile on. One particular bus stop has intrigued me for a long time.

This bus stop appears on a main road where two side streets reside directly across from each other. These side streets are technically one road that continues and intersects with the main street. However, the streets have two different names. Why? Well, on one side of the main drag, the homes are priced in the $200-$250K range, while on the other side, homes have sold from anywhere between $750K and $2 million.

The school bus stops each day at this intersection. On one side are average families with average homes. On the other are some of the wealthiest families in the area. I watch kids from both streets climb onto the bus, and in the back of my mind, I think about their future prospects.

Most people would assume the kids from the wealthy side of the road have a huge advantage over the kids from the proverbial "other side of the tracks." After all, families with lots of money can probably offer greater opportunities to their children, right? Well, I think of things a bit differently. I believe that as soon as those kids get on the bus and get to school, the playing field levels dramatically. Their relative success or failure really boils down to who applies themselves more. Regardless of their backgrounds, kids who work hard and dedicate themselves to learning early on are far more likely to succeed down the line than those who don't.

I'm sure we're all familiar with tales of privileged kids who wind up squandering their supposed head start in life. We're probably equally familiar with plenty of "rags to riches" stories.

When you think about investing success in the markets, scores of individuals have built big nest eggs simply by being smart with their money/approach. These folks didn't start with large sums of money. They simply invested wisely over long periods of time. The idea of needing big money to succeed on Wall Street is one of the biggest myths in the financial arena. People who believe this misnomer just don't understand the investing process.

Each day the market is open, we all have the power to buy or sell essentially anything we want. Just like those kids on the school bus, the investing playing field is level - regardless of how much money you're starting with. Just do your homework and seek the right sources for guidance. That's really all it takes to enjoy a lifetime of success - in or outside of the markets.

So while some others may have had a bit of a head start, the game of life is a long journey. There's plenty of time to close the gap and eventually take your place near the top if you have the ambition to do so.

Social Security Update

The federal government announced today that Social Security recipients will see a 1.7 percent rise in their 2013 benefits. The increase is slightly less than half the increase beneficiaries got this year (3.6%) and is among lowest hikes since the U.S. government started making annual adjustments in 1975. As a follow-up to yesterday's preview, individuals who are sitting in cash (instead of investing their money) will continue to see inflation chip away at their savings.

Does that mean retirees need to start rolling the dice on risky investments? Certainly not, but it definitely does mean that folks needs to seek out other retirement income sources beyond social security.

Income, Income, Income

At Dividend.com, 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 Dividend.com 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

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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 .



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: GWW , JNJ , LO , MAT , NEM

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