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Market Wrap-Up for Mar.2 (COST, MET, ALTR, TXN, XLNX, more)

The market fought hard to hold on to slight gains for the day, as many investors had a watchful eye on oil and gold prices. Despite reassurances from the Saudi government, the stock markets there have been down for 13 straight days. Investors there are certainly concerned.

Metlife ( MET ) was one of the names trading lower on news of a large share offering for the insurance giant. Costco ( COST ) was also down following the wholesaler's disappointing earnings release. In contrast, shares of semiconductor play Altera Corp ( ALTR ) was higher after the company reaffirmed estimates. We saw the rally in those shares carry over to competitors Texas Instruments ( TXN ) and Xilinx ( XLNX ). You can bet traders will be gun-shy and have one hand on the sell button on any signs the early rally will give way.

We continue to be proactive with our recommended list as we made another downgrade this morning. Be sure to check out the pos t if you did not read the e-mail alert we sent out earlier.

Everyone that reads my daily newsletter (nearly 18,000 now - Thank You So Much!) knows I have been very critical of the business media recently, due to its focus mostly on day trading. The lure is too easy to grab the latest headline and spin it to get viewers to stay tuned in during the next commercial break. There were some media metrics out from Nielsen Media Research yesterday showing CNBC's viewership fell 25 percent during the business day in February. Here we are in a market that has risen from 660 on the S&P to over 1300 the last two years (granted we went from 1400 to 660 before that). When you cater your message to an industry where the success rate is possibly as low as 10% (daytrading), sooner or later your audience will begin to erode. Part of my drive in growing Dividend.com is to get us back to the basics and lose the "trading is sexy" mantra that puts most people's portfolios in danger. We'll see if the ratings drop will spur more initiatives to get programming back toward benefiting investing and away from trading. I'm not holding my breath.

The White House recently released a report saying women earned about 75% as much as male counterparts at all levels of education. Among 25- to 34-year-olds, the ratio of women's earnings to men's earnings rose to 89% in 2009 from 68% in 1979, while for 45- to 54-year-olds the ratio gained to 74% from 57%. These are long overdue strides we are seeing, and this comes as no surprise to us here at Dividend.com, where we are seeing an ever-growing female subscriber base.

Regardless of gender, everyone's financial goals should be just about the same. Taking advantage of tax-advantaged retirement accounts (IRAs, 401k's) is a huge plus. Don't be afraid to make mistakes in investing, as we all need to learn from them. I just don't want to see or hear from anyone that they lost money investing in penny stocks. That's a simple investing premise you need to promise yourself you will never delve into.

Consulting with a financial planner as well as a tax professional is another way to educate yourself and feel more secure in your decisions. Don't get hung up on real estate when it comes to buying or renting. I am from the school of renting early on in life. Renting puts much less pressure on your finances, and you don't have to worry about losing your home if you have financial difficulties. Lastly, don't ever think you are too old to make an impact with saving for retirement. The minute you give up is the minute you hand over your financial direction to the government in your later years. That's the last thing you ever want to do. Two years of social security freezes should open your eyes to what things are like for older people that rely mostly on the government for their well-being. Remember, if you just turned 50 and you looked at your income statement and there is nothing but a $0 at the bottom of the page, you still have plenty of time to build a solid nest egg. For instance, you can start maxing out a Roth IRA contribution ($5K/year currently, but in addition to the "standard" contribution limits, taxpayers age 50 and over are eligible to make a Roth IRA "catch-up" contribution of an additional $1K/year). If you were to invest $5K per year for every year in your 50s, each $5K you invest would turn into more than $40K after 20 years. So you see, it's never too late to get started!

There are opportunities all around us to improve our financial situation, from a better job to a better education, or just simply following sites like ours (or other financial newsletters and magazines). It's on us to reach for the solution - it won't just fall into our laps. The choices you make will dictate your direction. Do you decide to turn off the TV for a change and start reading? Do you go to a book store instead of going to the movie theater? Do you wake up 1 hour earlier to get online and research the areas that can make your fortunes change?

I am not going to allow you to let up when it comes to staying on the right track for your financial future. 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.

Created by Dividend.com


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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