Stock Market Today: Tech Stocks Lead Wall Street Forward Again

Wednesday's scene was a familiar one: A day of choppy trading that saw the Nasdaq and its host of mega-caap tech stocks outpace the other blue-chip indices.

The U.S. reported another record spike in coronavirus cases yesterday, which appeared to weigh on most of the market early in the day. But stocks firmed up later in the day, led by solid gains for Big Tech.

Pros' Picks: The 15 Best Nasdaq Stocks You Can Buy

Apple (AAPL) advanced by 2.3% after Deutsche Bank analyst Jeriel Ong raised his price target to $400 per share.

"We do have some worry that the stock price has overreacted to the positive data points over the past two months, and the rough mental framework we've articulated certainly gives us some pause," Ong writes. However, "despite our worries, we do reiterate our confidence that AAPL can work from present levels."

Microsoft (MSFT, +2.2%) and (AMZN, +2.7%) were among other notable winners Wednesday.

The Nasdaq shot 1.4% higher to 10,492, closing yet again at all-time highs. The Dow gained 0.7% to 26,067, the S&P 500 closed 0.8% higher to 3,169, and the small-cap Russell 2000 finished with a 0.8% improvement to 1,427.

An Ugly Second Quarter for Dividends

New data out Wednesday delivered some discouraging news on the income investing front, however.

Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst for S&P Dow Jones Indices, reports that, during the second quarter, the U.S. equity market saw a net decline of $42.5 billion in dividend payments, the worst such drop since a $43.8 billion plunge in Q1 2009.

You can chalk that up to a much-smaller-than-usual number of dividend increases amid the COVID drawdown, as well as a slew of dividend cuts and suspensions, which included 50 S&P 500 components.

"Suspensions accounted for over half the cuts (334 of 639), as there was little time to react or hold out for some companies, as those holders will get nothing for Q3,'20," Silverblatt writes.

Still, there's a little silver lining.

The Kiplinger Dividend 15: Our Favorite Dividend-Paying Stocks

"Most surviving dividend issues keep an a stiff upper lip for now, with overall 2020 damage appearing to be a low single-digit decline," Silverblatt writes. "It's not the hig

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5 Booming Biotech Stocks to Buy

You could say biotechnology companies' shares were merely "interrupted" this year. Biotech stocks, as measured by the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB), started to rally furiously in the back half of 2019. The COVID-sparked market downturn knocked them down, but they've returned to outperformance and are now up 15% year-to-date.

The party likely isn't over, either.

New markets in areas such as anti-aging therapies and gene editing could be worth billions of dollars over the coming decade. That means biotech stocks should continue to get a bid over the coming years. While you can get access to many of these firms via exchange-traded funds (ETFs) like IBB, individual equities will typically give you more "bang for the buck" if you're willing to accept more risk.

Conversely, you don't have to gamble on tiny biotech plays to put the industry's growth in your portfolio, either.

Here are five booming individual biotech stocks to buy. All of these mid- and large-sized stocks boast 30% or more gains year-to-date, but all of them still have room to run as they continue to develop game-changing technologies. Better still: They generally boast strong financial fundamentals to boot.

Data is as of July 2. 19 of the Best Stocks You've Never Heard Of

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Making the Best of a Forced Retirement Did You Know You Can Start, Stop and Then Restart Social Security?

For many of us, the hope is to glide into retirement sometime in our early to mid-60s. After 40-plus years of hard work, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of our labor — on our own terms. Except when things outside of our control derail those well-laid plans. Instead of a gradual transition, we get a forced retirement.

A survey from Allianz Life found that more than 50% of Americans are forced out of the workforce earlier than they planned. Unanticipated job loss was the leading reason, followed by health issues.

An unexpected exit from the workplace can mean missing out on additional years of peak earnings, potentially lower retirement benefits and the need to start drawing down assets early.

Without a financial plan, you could find yourself struggling to cope. The same goes for those who have a plan but left little room for contingencies. A financial plan shouldn’t work like a rock foundation, but rather a suspension bridge — flexible and capable of handling a wide variety of shifting conditions.

However, a forced retirement doesn’t have to mean an unenjoyable retirement. There are some steps you can take to help keep your retirement dreams alive as best as possible.

Find Health Care Coverage

Before tallying up your retirement savings, focus on your health.

If you are younger than age 65, maintaining health insurance coverage before Medicare kicks in is critical. Medical bills are the biggest cause of bankruptcy in the United States. Even without coverage from an employer, you may still have options available to you for health insurance. If you are married, you could join your spouse’s plan. Or find coverage through COBRA or the health care exchange.

When shopping around for health insurance, be sure to look at more than just the premium. Examine the quality of coverage, deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses.

Review Your Financial Plan and Adjust, If Necessary

Leaving the workforce earlier than planned isn’t ideal, but you may be in the fortunate position to retire comfortably with few adjustments to your long-term financial goals. The only way to know is to get a review of your finances and then put together a decumulation strategy. Essentially, you take stock of a

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Avoid Blindly Following Random Benchmarks on the Road to Retirement

Investment benchmarks are kind of like all those random signs you pass on the road.

Sometimes, they’re informational. Sometimes, they’re entertaining. But all too often, they’re just downright distracting.

And if you put too much focus on the wrong ones, you could end up hurting your chances of ever getting where you want to go.

When Online Investing Turns Deadly: Lessons from a Robinhood Trader’s Suicide

Unfortunately, all too often, investors do just that. Their attention is diverted by a benchmark that doesn’t necessarily apply to them or their plan — such as the S&P 500 index— and it can lead them astray. Suddenly, they’re moving out of their comfort zone, driving faster than they should, and maybe even taking a wild turn off the road they’re on despite the added risk of getting into a crash or running out of gas.

There’s little point in constantly checking your progress against an index or someone else’s portfolio results if they aren’t relevant to your investment strategy or your unique needs. The only measure you need to monitor is how you’re doing when it comes to your own goals, risk tolerance and timeline.

Here are some things you should be thinking about — and planning for — on the road to retirement.

1. What’s your destination?

A lot of people have no idea where they’re going in retirement. They haven’t even thought about the income they will need to replace when they don’t have a regular paycheck anymore. So that’s the starting point: How much will you need to pull from your investments to have the lifestyle you want? When do you hope to retire? How many years do you expect to be creating your own paycheck? Where will the money come from (Social Security, a pension, your 401(k), a Roth IRA, or some other source) and in what order?

Your income plan will be your roadmap in retirement — but it also will help guide you as you make your way toward that goal.

2. How fast or slow do you want – or need – to go?

Once you know where you’re going, you can choose the right investments for the journey based on the risk vs. the reward. If you jump into an overly aggressive strategy, you might get to your destination faster — or you might not get there at all. On the flipside, a strategy that’s t

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Stock Market Today: Nasdaq's 5-Day Win Streak Snapped

Wall Street’s underlying worries about the resilience of the economic recovery were given room to roam Tuesday thanks to a dearth of significant new positive data.

COVID-related hospitalizations are rising across much of the Sun Belt, and yesterday once again saw a new record rolling seven-day average of daily new cases. That caused economically sensitive stocks such as American Airlines (AAL, -7.0%) and Carnival (CCL, -6.6%) to lead the market lower today.

The Kiplinger Dividend 15: Our Favorite Dividend-Paying Stocks

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite finally suffered a loss after five consecutive up days, closing 0.9% lower to 10,343. The S&P 500 dipped 1.1% to 3,145, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was the worst of the major blue-chip indices, closing 1.5% down to 25,890. The small-cap Russell 2000 declined 1.9% to finish Tuesday's session at 1,416.

There were a handful of bright spots, however.

Walmart (WMT, +6.8%), for instance, leaped on news that it will launch an Amazon Prime competitor subscription service later this month for $98 annually. The service reportedly will include perks such as same-day grocery delivery and discounts on fuel.

And Novavax (NVAX, +31.6%) roared ahead after announcing the federal government is awarding the biotech company $1.6 billion to help speed up development of a COVID-19 vaccine.

A Sideways Summer?

Every rally needs the occasional breather, and there’s little in Tuesday’s pause to signal deeper declines ahead. But some on Wall Street are increasingly of the mind that we could be in for a sideways summer following Q2’s rapid stock-market recovery and amid a batch of fresh question marks about America’s ability to fend off the coronavirus.

The fall elections could be trouble, too.

“Markets tend to be volatile ahead of elections because of the uncertainty around possible policy changes,” Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial, writes in a recent note. "In this election, the stakes are particularly high for corporate America because a takeover of the Senate by Democrats and a possible Biden victory reported

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