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Market Wrap-Up for Jan.13 (JPM, C, MS, UPS, GE, MSFT, more)

Posted: 1/13/2012 4:07:00 PM
Referenced Stocks: C;GE;GS;INTC;JPM

The markets traded down for much of the day, first on the so-so earnings report from J.P. Morgan ( JPM ), but then on the story S&P was set to lower debt ratings for several European nations. Despite the early overhang of both negative catalysts, the market was able to finish off the lows.

As I mentioned earlier this week, we are evaluating numerous dividend candidates for potential additions to our Best Dividend Stocks List . We'll alert Premium subscribers if and when we make any changes. In the meantime, lower share prices could be a good thing for dividend investors that have capital to deploy.

J.P. Morgan ( JPM ) did give back some of this year's gains following a ho-hum earnings report out this morning. The selling did spread to its competitors, including Citigroup ( C ), Morgan Stanley ( MS ), and Goldman Sachs ( GS ). Elsewhere, Wall Street downgrades played a role in today's down tape, with shares of United Parcel Service ( UPS ) and PNC Financial ( PNC ) ending lower. Bucking the selling were shares of supermarket chain Safeway ( SWY ), which caught some positive commentary as it related to a better jobs environment likely helping the stock if recent data trends maintain.

What Did the Market Do Today?

When it comes to making money over the long-term, the "instant results" generation is at a huge disadvantage. Most of the focus today (thanks to the business media) is on checking your financial scoreboard frequently. As a result, many modern market watchers are more like gamblers than real investors. It's gotten to the point where most people will simply ask "What did the market do today?" to get a gauge on how stocks are performing.

It's also easier than ever to access your brokerage account and check the status of your holdings. Investors these days have the benefit of smartphones, tablets, laptops, and more - all on the go. We can't fight the trend of mobile access, but we should certainly pace ourselves. Realize the seeds we plant (in the form of dividend stocks or any other income-producing asset) do not need constant (hourly) monitoring. Instead, our investments are best left to grow without too much maintenance.

I suggest long-term investors make it a weekly habit to check on their investments. That way, you can stay on top of things without worrying about the false idol of overnight results.

Find Your Biggest Financial Weakness and Fix It!

To position yourself for success in investing (and life in general), it's useful to identify the one key area that's holding you back. These factors can range from needing to free up more money to invest each month, to cutting back on frivolous spending, or even a lack of education on how best to manage your investments.

You'd be shocked at how many people are unable to pinpoint obvious blemishes in their financial gameplan. Young couples, for instance, often times overextend themselves as far as living arrangements go. Renting a two-bedroom apartment for $1,700 a month apartment and spending the rest of their money on entertainment goodies (electronics, restaurants, etc.) is a fast-track to a mountain of debt.

So take a step back and consider what you can do to improve your finances. Freeing up the capital necessary to generate wealth is not hard, but without action, the clock will continue to run. Time will quickly become less of your ally and more of your concern.

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A Look to Next Week and a Weekend Preview

Looking ahead to next week, just a reminder the markets will be closed for Martin Luther King Holiday on Monday, but earnings will kick into high gear as we get back in on Tuesday. Some of next week's big names reporting results include Citigroup ( C ), Wells Fargo ( WFC ), Intel Corp ( INTC ), Microsoft ( MSFT ), General Electric ( GE ), and many others. Also, look for our weekend edition post to be out on Monday.

Be sure to catch up with our latest watchlist updates this weekend on Premium , including reports on earnings/story stocks, analyst upgrades/downgrades, dividend ETFs, and much more. And as always, you can view our current recommendations on our industry-leading Best Dividend Stocks List .

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you this weekend! 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.

Be sure to visit our complete recommended list of the Best Dividend Stocks , as well as a detailed explanation of our ratings system here .