Market Wrap-Up for Mar.1 (LO, GG, ABX, PETM, BID, more)

With the majority of U.S. states in fiscal crisis, lawmakers are contemplating moving state workers away from guaranteed pension plans and toward 401K-type retirement savings plans. Shortfalls in employee pension funds are the tip of the iceberg for this storm that continues to brew. I would not be surprised for things to turn ugly as unions are certainly not going to give in easily. We are still trying to assess how this could affect the markets going forward.

The biggest issue front and center is the possibility of oil disruptions wreaking havoc on consumer pocketbooks. The market in Saudi Arabia had a tough night and is the key one to keep an eye on. Too many pundits wrote off Egypt's democratic revolution as the guaranteed scenario for other uprisings in the region. When it comes to control of oil, you can never assume anything will just fall into place. Again, we are keeping a cautious eye on what the latest developments are in the Middle East. I am noticing gold prices are beginning to perk up after moving sideways for the last 4-5 months. If we see gold shooting higher from these levels, we would not be as enthused on the markets as we have been. There will certainly need to be adjustments to our Best Dividend Stocks List , but that is what investing is all about. You are going to have to stay flexible as to what the best names will be for your money each month. Remember, the point of the Best Dividend Stocks List is so investors have a solid idea of where to consider putting new capital. We are always ready for whatever the market will bring us.

We know Wall Street would love to see the now two-year-long rally go for at least the next year or so as the Internet/Social Media IPO runway is getting ready. There is so much "hot" money chasing the latest and greatest social media "can't miss" companies. JP Morgan Chase & Co. ( JPM ) recently announced it raised $1.22 billion for a new fund to invest exclusively in the social media sector. The company is said to be ready to deploy funds in privately-held names like Twitter, Zynga, and other VC-backed companies in the same space. Once this happens, you can bet the next hope for investment bankers is these companies can ramp higher and possibly be convinced to buy "old media" stalwarts. Who can forget how terribly the AOL purchase of Time Warner wound up?

My hope is for investors to avoid the euphoria that could be headed our way if the markets can hold up well until the next "leaders" are born in their IPO debuts. It's always after the fact that investors who were burned realized that the business models that wowed them were eventually easily replicated, not to mention online users' tastes that frequently change from one "must use" service to the next. Anyone you know still use MySpace? News Corp certainly isn't smiling about that acquisition.

We at do have a presence on Twitter and Facebook , but we don't conduct our business on there, despite what the social media experts will tell many they should be doing. If you are an entrepreneur, there are some benefits to being social media-savvy, but when it comes to making coin, you need your own platform/website. Focus on word-of-mouth marketing when it comes to getting your name or company's brand out. There is nothing like having your customers relay a strong message about the results they found working with you and your service/product. I can't tell you how many times we hear from new subscribers that heard about us from fellow subscribers that passed on our brand. Why do customers do this? It's simple: you earn their trust and respect through your hard work and results.

You often hear people harping on just being different and you will stand out. Being different is worthless if you don't have the goods to back up what you are trying to sell. Hype only lasts so long in this internet age. Deliver results and your business will only know how to grow. Who wants to spend days putting out fires! That means you are selling the wrong product or wrong service to the "right" people. People will pay for what they perceive as great returns on investment (ROI in corporate speak).

Looking at today's action, we certainly did not get the typical first day of the month pop we have been seeing regularly. The situation I described above in the Middle East is certainly one of the reasons, I'm sure. We made some adjustments to our recommended list this afternoon, so be sure to check out the post if you did not read the e-mail alert we sent out. Gold-mining plays saw a bid as gold prices shot up over $21 an ounce. Barrick Gold ( ABX ) and Goldcorp ( GG ) led the surge. Lorillard ( LO ) was up early as investors gained confidence from a preliminary note the FDA may not come down hard on the marketing of menthol cigarettes, but the stock did close way off the earlier highs. We are still content remaining on the sidelines with Lorillard until the smoke clears (pun intended). Sotheby's ( BID ) drifted lower following the company's results out earlier. PetSmart ( PETM ) was able to squeak out a small gain after the pet retailing giant beat analyst estimates.

I hope everyone caught this morning's premium posts as we have updated the biggest gainers and losers from our numerous watchlists. Check out the links below for some of the featured articles and visit for the rest.

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you tomorrow! P.S. Please pass this e-mail on to someone you think can use some financial motivation.

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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