The manic "she loves me, she loves me not" market was in motion once again today, this time to the upside. A fall in gold prices ( GLD ) was one of the positive catalysts for equities according to some market watchers. We are set to get the new jobs' initiative out of the Obama administration tomorrow, so we can bet there will be some mixed debate as to how effective the plan can be.
Looking at some headlines from today, Darden Restaurants ( DRI ) shares fell nearly 4% after the company lowered its outlook, pointing to Hurricane Irene effects for the likely shortfall. We tend to see companies jump on the "Mother Nature" bandwagon once others do. In most cases these events should be a one-quarter hiccup, but put your guard up if the next quarter doesn't get back in-line. Meanwhile, Walter Energy ( WLT ) gained 21% on speculation a takeover bid could be brewing for the company. WLT is a member of the high-beta low-dividend yield club that is better suited for the nimblest of traders, not income-seeking investors. In other news, Wall Street analyst upgrades helped lift stocks like Capital One Financial ( COF ), William Sonoma ( WSM ), and Time Warner ( TWX ). The market continues to have no memory from day to day, but we certainly prefer seeing upside days over downside if we had our choice.
There was lots of buzz late last week on a report from Standard & Poor's, which estimated that investors will pocket $241 billion in dividend payments from S&P 500 companies this year, up from $205 billion in 2010 and $196 billion in 2009. Through the end of August, nearly half of the companies in the S&P 500 have either increased or initiated a dividend payment, up from 175 during the first eight months of 2010. With record cash reserves, corporate America is increasing dividend payouts at the fastest pace in seven years.
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