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Market Wrap-Up for Dec.7 (MW, JPM, HAL, MS, GS, more)

Despite threats of potentially more debt downgrades to come, the U.S. indices mounted a nice afternoon rally to get the markets to mostly end in positive territory.

The comeback was being led by the financials, as investors took to names like Goldman Sachs ( GS ), Morgan Stanley ( MS ), and J.P. Morgan ( JPM ), just to name a few. Shares of Men's Wearhouse ( MW ) jumped higher following the company's earnings results . Interestingly enough, shares of Monsanto ( MON ) closed slightly lower, despite the agricultural products giant raising guidance earlier today.

We did have some weakness in the oil service-related space such as Halliburton ( HAL ) and Baker Hughes ( BHI ). Coal producer Peabody Energy ( BTU ) ended in the red following some cautious Wall Street analyst commentary.

Eye-Opening CNBC Survey Results

CNBC recently conducted a poll of 800 Americans, and despite concerns about the economy, those questioned plan to spend an average of $751 on holiday gifts this year, up 22% percent from last year. Frugality is a concept that makes sense for most cash-strapped consumers, but as you can see, it's nearly impossible for many to stick with for any length of time. The only solution for those who want to keep spending is to turn up their earnings potential. That means more hustling and a willingness to work many more hours to avoid slipping into easy debt (the "plastic" debt gods will reign over many people's financial futures if they're not careful).

Another headline coming out of the survey was that 53% of respondents believe now is a bad time to invest in the stock market.

As I've said repeatedly, timing the markets over the long-term is a bad strategy. Just dabbling in the markets will not get you to where you need to be. Instead, stay consistent with your investments. If you have a bad habit of jumping in and out of the markets, dividend investing is the best remedy for your affliction. You'll gain a new perspective on the results that long-term investing and the power of compound interest can deliver.

We realize many of you have already put these concepts into practice, but market volatility tends to push some investors to the sidelines for extended periods of time. That's when the habit of trying to "time" the markets takes hold. The danger with market timing is that you need to be right twice - both when you buy and sell. You essentially morph into a trader, and I've made it clear how incredibly difficult it is to succeed at trading. Instead, be an investor who seeks to generate income and compounding returns from quality dividend-paying stocks .

Women Losing Traction in the Public Sector Workforce

According to a National Women's Law Center analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, since June 2009, U.S. women have lost 117,000 jobs, while men have gained more than 1.1 million. Cuts in public-sector jobs in recent years where women represented just over half (57.2%) of the workforce are being cited for the diverging trend.

The retirement story can hit particularly hard for women. Some of the latest statistics show that women earn about 76% of what men earn over their lifetimes. Plus, women spend an average of 12 years out of the workforce, often taking care of children or other loved ones. Other key factors for women to consider when it comes to getting a handle on their own retirement: the potential for divorce, women tend to live longer (so longevity is a concern), and a married couple's combined Social Security benefit tends to be reduced by one-third to one-half when one spouse dies (again, women usually outlive men).

I continually stress the importance of financial independence to my own daughters as they get older. They'll soon face decisions about college and their careers, and I keep pushing them to pursue interests that can provide a strong financial foundation for them.

Fortunately at Dividend.com we feel we have the investing solution to help alleviate long-term worries for many. Everyone knows I continue to pound home the message of dividend investing and compound interest (as does Suze Orman in her latest book, The Money Class ). The long-term benefits of this investing strategy are enormous, even if you have minimal capital to get started with.

2011 Has Been a Big Year for Dividend Stocks!

It is always great to see the media tip their hat to what has been a great year for dividend-paying stocks. We're seeing several major media outlets publishing articles about how dividends were a big investing theme in 2011.

The truth is that we tend to see solid years more often than not in the dividend world, but the business media focuses their attention instead on the high-risk momentum action. Only in times of extreme duress does the media seem to focus on our dividend niche. Regardless, we won't be distracted from our job of finding the best dividend names to put fresh capital into.

I'd like to thank all our Dividend.com Premium subscribers and newsletter readers for helping spread the word about our service. It means a lot to us, and telling loved ones about Dividend.com is the best possible gift you can give to us this holiday season.

Our Beat The Markets with Dividend Stocks eBook Has Arrived!

We just debuted our brand new 275-page eBook, exclusively on Dividend.com! 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 Dividend.com 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 Dividend.com Premium homepage now to download your copy.

A Dividend Capture Strategy for Active Investors

We now offer complete U.S. dividend data for all Dividend.com Premium members, so anyone that focuses on "Dividend Capture" trading strategies should have plenty of good stuff to research each day. Just check our enhanced Ex-Dividend Calendar , which is the best in the business, to search for upcoming payouts.

Speaking of dividend capture, Dividend.com Premium members can also access a 9-page report we published on the essential elements to any successful dividend capture strategy. Be sure to check it out here on the Premium homepage .

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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