Market Wrap-Up for Sept.4 (CPB, AAPL, BTU, CSX, NSC, WLT, more)

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Well, investors came back from the three-day holiday weekend to find a nervous market environment. With gold prices hovering back up toward the $1700 an ounce levels, stock investors moved a bit slower into equities during the first half of the day, but did pick up some steam as the day went on.

Campbell Soup ( CPB ) shares had traded off higher following the company's earnings beat , but the stock closed well off the day's highs. Apple ( AAPL ) shares were up following yet another analyst upgrade . These AAPL upgrades seem to come on a daily basis. At some point, there will be no one left that hasn't said good things about the Apple story!

In contrast to the Apple euphoria, there seemed to be a big negative analyst theme around coal today, with downgrades hitting coal producers Peabody Energy ( BTU ) and Walter Energy ( WLT ), as well as coal transport plays CSX Corp ( CSX ) and Norfolk Southern ( NSC ).

Following Europe's Lead? Let's Hope Not

The Washington Post highlighted the troubling employment situation affecting the younger generations in Europe recently, and the data is startlingly bad. The youth unemployment rate (age 15-24) in Greece and Spain has climbed to a staggering 53 percent, with Portugal next at 36 percent, Italy at 34 percent, and France at 23 percent rounding out the worst situations. In the U.S., the youth unemployment rate is just 15 percent, but we all know that number is trending higher.

Worries about the fallout from the troubling trend in Europe include rising crime and depression rates, with birth rates declining even further. Here in the U.S. the situation isn't all that much better for young people. Remember, total student debt in the U.S. recently crossed the $1 trillion mark, so the burden of being unemployed becomes even more detrimental to one's overall financial outlook.

With election season upon us, you can bet the emphasis will be on some sort of student loan reform, but once again, these changes will only come long after the severe damage has been done. Turning to the taxpayer to help put out another fire that was fueled by soaring college tuition costs is just another roadblock we will all have to share at some point.

We all have to do our best to guide the next generation to smarter choices (in school, spending money, career, and with whom they surround themselves with). My kids are always hearing me use the word "hustle," and my daughter got her first taste of it recently, working in a super-busy gelato store for the summer. Fortunately, she loved the fast pace, and I hope my prep work (from my old retail days) had something to do with her being ready to go.

See, we can't operate like Washington/local governments do when it comes to our family's finances. If we only react once something bad has already happened, ignoring the early warning signs, we'll being doing ourselves and our families a great injustice. Let's hope our government can realize this fact at some point, and stop being so late to the blatantly obvious problem areas in the economy.

Calling for Accountability

I recently read about a 19-member civil grand jury calling out the San Francisco Employees' Retirement System's (SFERS) investment strategy because of its "volatile and risky investment policies," "unrealistically high, assumed investment return rate of 7.66%," and for not undertaking a formal "failure analysis" subsequent to the funding loss suffered in 2008-2009. The $16 billion public plan is only 83.9% funded as of July 2011, with $3 billion in outstanding liabilities, which does not comply with the city charter requiring that the public pension be fully funded.

Now of course, if the fund was doing well despite investing in volatile and risky investments, it probably wouldn't come under any scrutiny. When things are going well, like gamblers, risky investors are on top of the world. It's only when the house of cards comes crashing down that the critics come calling.

Regardless of the type of markets we are in - bull or bear - an investor's job is to remain grounded in what his or her normal realized expectations should be. Unfortunately, human nature distracts many investors, who seek above-average market returns year after year. This trend leads to chasing whatever the next big move may be, and eventually a portfolio based only on the bedlam of the markets.

I can't say it enough: stay consistent and disciplined in your investing, and you'll be bound for long-term success. Get greedy with unrealistic expectations and start chasing speculative investments, however, and you'll inevitably do serious damage to your hard-earned nest egg.

Year-to-Date Results Just Posted

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 have done through the first eight months of 2012. As always, you can find these and other members-only articles on Dividend.com Premium Articles Page .

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.

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: AAPL , BTU , CPB , CSX , NSC

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