Market Wrap-Up for Dec.12 (INTC, VZ, UTX, XOM, DD, GLD, more)

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The averages were all lower today as uncertainties mounted over the weekend regarding a fix to the ongoing European debt crisis. The markets in Europe were all lower by 2-3% and the selling easily translated into losses for the U.S. markets.

An earnings warning from semiconductor giant Intel Corp ( INTC ) didn't help matters much. The company is blaming supply shortages for the shortfall , and the stock is slipping nearly 4% in morning trading. Elsewhere, Wall Street analyst downgrades weighed on several names we have been watching, including Exxon Mobil ( XOM ), United Technologies ( UTX ), Occidental Petroleum ( OXY ), and DuPont ( DD ). Gold ( GLD ) prices took a big hit during the session as well, with the price of the yellow metal falling by nearly $50 an ounce.

On the flipside, we had some rumors and headlines moving stocks up. Shares of Vulcan Materials ( VMC ) rallied by nearly 16% on news the company has been approached by Martin Marietta Materials ( MLM ) for a possible merger. Verizon ( VZ ) was also in the headlines as rumors circulated the company could be considering a bid for recently-maligned Netflix ( NFLX ).

Retirement Threat for Baby Boomers

A recent survey from Scottrade revealed three main issues when it comes to baby boomer retirement fears.

The fist was whether their employers will be able to meet pension obligations after they retire. The second was whether Social Security benefits would run out on them, with the recent mounting concerns that the system will be insolvent within the next couple of decades. Lastly, many voiced concerns that they are behind in their retirement savings objectives. As a result, those polled indicated they were worried about the future for their kids and grandkids (one could that this worry has existed for every parent and grandparent since the beginning of time).

So, let's talk about how we can help put those worries to rest. If possible, I suggest that anyone approaching retirement think about delaying their social security payments. Keep in mind that taking benefits at age 62 locks in payments that are only 75 percent of what they would be at the retirement age of 66. Delaying benefits at age 66 will raise them by 8 percent a year until age 70, after which benefits do not increase with age.

If you are already retired, you need to use a smart strategy regarding the money you withdraw from your accounts to cover everyday living expenses. Many financial advisors tend to use a 4% annual withdrawal rate when discussing retirement savings withdrawals. With this approach, investors withdraw 4% of their retirement balance in the first year of retirement, or let's say $20,000 from a $500K portfolio. The dollar amount of the withdrawal could be adjusted each year to keep up with inflation. So whether you are deriving income from dividend-paying stocks, bonds, bank CDs, or other sources, you can at least have a starting point (4% withdrawal rate) to factor from.

Each day provides an opportunity to better ourselves financially and professionally. Tackle the obstacles as they come and don't get frustrated by the frequency of issues we face. I can assure you that the worries highlighted in the survey above will be nearly the same in the decades to come. Always focus on making the best decisions possible and don't be afraid to be flexible if life calls for it. The stress you get from worrying will not ever fix the problem, so keep a rational state of mind and focus on the good in life. Play the cards you are dealt, make a move if you have one. If you don't, then doing less is more. Don't forget that!

Dividend Increases Ramping Up

In case you missed it, we saw a good number of companies raise their dividend payouts during the past week. Be sure to check out our posts running down all these changes each day on the Premium Articles page.

Our Beat The Markets with Dividend Stocks eBook Has Arrived!

We just debuted our brand new 275-page eBook, exclusively on! In this digital-only book, we look ahead to 2012 and the main factors that could affect dividend investors. A $39.95 value, the eBook is a free download for paid Premium subscribers.

Beat The Markets with Dividend Stocks contains a full economic forecast for 2012, including in-depth analysis on 65 of the biggest dividend stocks out there. It's a great way to get prepared for your investing next year! So head over to the Premium homepage now to download your copy.

I hope everyone had a chance to check out our 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.

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 Nasdaq, Inc.

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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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