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Market Wrap-Up for Dec.5 (C, JPM, YUM, MET, MS, CVX, more)

As I mentioned during my noon newsletter, the early rally on European headlines didn't appear to be based on anything new and as the afternoon approached a bit of the early upside started coming off the table. Talk of a full scale S&P rating downgrade of 17 Euro nations also caused a bit of anxiety, but we still managed to see the indices close with solid gains.

Financials were bouncing once again, with the usual players seeing the biggest gains on the day, namely Citigroup ( C ), J.P. Morgan ( JPM ), and Morgan Stanley ( MS ). A bullish Wall Street call on oil this morning helped lift up stocks like Occidental Petroleum ( OXY ), Devon Energy ( DVN ), and Chevron ( CVX ), although the names gave up a decent chunk of the gains by the close. A couple of business updates from Metlife ( MET ) and Yum Brands ( YUM ) had both stocks finish a bit higher after company execs reaffirmed earnings guidance.

Post Office Heading to a Slow Death (and More Industries Will Follow)

More negative headlines came out of the U.S. Postal Service this weekend, with the organization announcing the impending end of next-day mail delivery. We've also heard chatter of eliminating Saturday mail delivery, again to stave off the losses that continue to pile up. Unfortunately, the reality is that all these "fixes" will not make up for the underlying problems the U.S. Postal Service faces: higher energy costs, onerous pension/retirement obligations, etc.

Not to cast a cloud over the better-than-expected jobs report we saw on Friday, but as I have mentioned in previous posts, a lot of private money (venture capital, private equity) is funding startups that target specific industries with numerous cost inefficiencies. These startups, with lower overhead costs and often using new technologies as their ally, can move in and take advantage of many industries. In other words, the new kids on the block can do the same type of revenue with much lower costs.

Financial Risks for Parents and Kids Today

The most stressful part of being a parent these days, as kids approach college age, is trying to get them to zero in on a career path in an industry that both interests them and provides great earnings potential. With college tuition costs continuing to rise rapidly, it's more important than ever for kids to be very selective in their studies. One thing we know for sure, no college will ever turn down your money, regardless of whether or not your child has a definitely major picked out.

As we evaluate investment opportunities for our Best Dividend Stocks List here at Dividend.com, we take a similar approach. Where some see "value," we may not see the same opportunity. Instead, we sometimes see a company's stock as dead money, which only leads to poor returns. The world and its various economic factors will always be evolving. It's our job not to ignore the potential warning signs when they do appear.

Dividend Increases Ramping Up

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

Our Beat The Markets with Dividend Stocks eBook Has Arrived!

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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 Dividend.com Premium homepage now to download your copy.

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.

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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