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Market Wrap-Up for Mar.15 (FCX, AFL, CMI, COF, ABX, SLW, more)

The potential failure of numerous nuclear reactors in Japan set off a new round of selling in the global markets. Japan's Nikkei was down over 10% by the close early this morning. Markets in Europe were down anywhere from 2-3% and our markets are down over 2% in the early going, but we did manage to close off the day's lows. Japan faces huge costs from this major economic disruption, and the ability for the country to bounce back will not be as easy as many analysts are currently predicting. Japan faces potential "junk bond" status, as the country's debt had recently been downgraded by S&P. The road to recovery will be difficult for a country that has been mired in a fiscal debt crisis for the last couple of decades.

No one may have noticed, but there was a Federal Reserve meeting/announcement this afternoon. Actually, no surprises to report in regards to interest rates. Some of the names bouncing back the most included Freeport McMoran ( FCX ), Cummins Inc. ( CMI ), and Capital One Financial ( COF ). On the flipside, big losses were had by insurer Aflac ( AFL ), which does the majority of their business in Japan. There was no hard to hide in metals mining stocks. Silver Wheaton ( SLW ) and Barrick Gold ( ABX ) paced the losses. We made a couple of changes to our Best Dividend Stocks List this morning, as we continue to refine the names that we feel investors could consider for new capital purchases (You can check out the link below if you did not read the e-mail alert we sent out to Dividend.com Premium subscribers earlier). These are tough times for investors, and no easier for analysts like ourselves. No one can prepare for catastrophe to occur such as the one we are seeing in Japan. The only thing we can do is go through the portfolio and make changes as we see fit. There were also be names that will get oversold as well, which will present some great buying opportunities. We will certainly look to identify those names as they pop out to us and share them with subscribers as those situations occur.

We are certainly seeing some amazing stories coming out of the disaster (rescues, stories of courage - people clinging to roofs for days to survive), but we are also seeing a good amount of social media debacles. Several celebrities have been putting their proverbial "foot in their mouths" on Twitter. We mentioned Aflac earlier, but there was more news from the company as they fired comedian Gilbert Gottfried as the voice of their famous duck for some tasteless comments surrounding the devastation in Japan. There were plenty others taking the time to tweet pure stupidity as well. Social Media can be a blessing for some that have been able to build a large brand for themselves, but a curse for others that showcase their inner selves as they really are.

The business media is no better and as I mentioned yesterday, there is almost always a "ratings first" mentality when it comes to reporting the next big sound byte. For investors that are deciding on how to handle this pullback, there is no clear-cut answer to where the bottom will certainly be (although the pundits will be quick to grasp at round numbers all the way down - 12,000, 11,800, etc.). If you have been sitting on the sidelines, there is no reason to go "all-in" during a crisis as we are seeing. I never view catastrophes as opportunities, but lower prices will certainly be a reason for someone to consider putting capital into the markets. At the end of the day, scaling into the markets during a crisis has paid off if you are truly a long-term investor. If you are a trader, then you are just flipping a coin, because there is simply no edge in an environment like this.

This is certainly a day not to sit in front of your television for hours on end. If you decide to buy some stocks today, do so and then do an activity (if you are not working/retired). Take a walk, read a book, but don't sit there worrying yourself sick about what the next pundit is about to say. Again, there's no reason to go "all-in" if you are sitting on piles of cash. Slow and steady wins the race. If you are ready to make your monthly contribution to your investment portfolio and are thinking of waiting an extra day or two to buy, that's fine as well. You have to be comfortable with whatever you feel is best for you. The key is not to try and begin timing the markets on a daily or monthly basis.

Let's continue to push forward and focus on the long-term, but do understand the scope of what is happening in Japan. Our prayers certainly go out to those who have lost loved ones in the events that have transpired over the last week.

Thanks for reading and I will 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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