It was a tough day all around for the markets as we heard anecdotes of an economic slowdown occurring in China. Also, Moody's was out with a debt downgrade on Spain this morning. Plus, initial jobless claims were worse-than-expected, and the U.S. trade deficit climbed to record levels. Talk about a perfect storm for bad news!
There are a couple of bright spots in today's sea of red, however. Starbucks ( SBUX ) was up strongly on news of a joint venture with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters ( GMCR ). Also, Men's Wearhouse ( MW ) closed higher following the company's guidance. As for the selling, Wall Street downgrades pushed shares of Exxon Mobil ( XOM ) and Arch Coal ( ACI ) lower. Commodity stocks were hit the hardest, with companies like Peabody Energy ( BTU ), Silver Wheaton ( SLW ), and Rio Tinto ( RIO ) pacing the losses.
We made several changes to our industry-leading "Best Dividend Stocks" List today. Be sure to check out the link below for the list of twelve stocks we have removed from our recommended list. Just one of the twelve was an "aggressive" name that we would ring the register on. The others should be monitored closely, but at this point all we're recommending is to not put any new capital into these names. There are plenty of better opportunities elsewhere in the markets right now.
The battle between real estate bulls and bears seems to never end. It seems like the media can't get enough of the bottom-callers fighting those who believe we are plenty of years away from seeing any sort of stabilization. Lower-wage industries like retail and food preparation have accounted for 49 percent of the jobs gained over the last year according to a recent study by the National Employment Law Program. By contrast, Higher-wage industries accounted for just 14 percent of the jobs gained. This is certainly not a bullish data point for those looking for a quick housing recovery. I have only advocated investors consider real estate in the form of multi-unit dwellings where the rent roll will put some decent money in your pocket as well as having the tenants cover your share of your living expenses. It's a bit old-fashioned, but the numbers really look better as the years go by and you are able to see better margins from higher rents. Outside of real estate ventures like that, stay focused on income-producing dividend stocks that can get you started building wealth and keep you on the right track.
Speaking of real estate, I wanted to pass along a few great sites I found regarding getting your property taxes possibly lowered. The April edition of Kiplinger magazine highlighted three websites you can check out if you believe you are paying too much in property taxes. They are:
ValueAppeal.com. For $99, you'll find out whether you're paying too much and how much you could save by appealing. You get a property valuation based on the same data your county uses for its assessments, a list of ten comparable properties, a customized appeal report to mail to your appeals board and access to a tool that analyzes the property assessor's comparable properties to demonstrate that they unfairly support a higher value for your home.
EasyTaxFix.com. For $79.95, you get three comparable properties (with the option to select other ones if you think they better reflect your property's value), a completed appeal form, valuation document and instructions on how to proceed.
LowerMyAssessment.com. You can see your property's assessed value and market value for free. For $39.95, the basic package provides comparable sales data. For $79.95, the deluxe package includes completed appeals forms in addition to sales data (it's only available in 11 states). For $299.95, the premier package includes an appraisal by a licensed appraiser, along with appeals forms and comparable properties.
Just be aware that not all of the rural areas may be covered and in some cases, certain states may not be covered - depending on which service you consider researching. Some of these sites also offer a money back guarantee if your appeal is rejected. Good luck and hopefully some of you can save some money and put that capital to work for you elsewhere (dividend-paying stocks of course!)
I hope everyone is enjoying the new layouts for our dividend stock profile pages, where we've added additional dividend data points. We have more features that are coming on board soon, as well as new coverage on several dividend stocks that readers have been asking for coverage on.
Be sure to check out our latest "Top 50 Dividend Stocks on Our Watchlist" post we published earlier today. I also want to update everyone that my "Be a Dividend Millionaire" book release has been moved up to April 14th! I hope everyone can grab a copy (and maybe some extra copies to give to others). Please pass this newsletter on to any family, friends, or colleagues that you think could benefit from it. Word of mouth about Dividend.com is one of the best gifts you can give us.
Thanks for reading, and I'll see you tomorrow!
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