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Stocks Eke Out Gains, but Land Mines Loom in 2019

Stocks Eke Out Gains, but Land Mines Loom in 2019

Investors looking for a relief rally got one (sort of) on Tuesday. All the major indices popped at the open, stayed aloft through midday, tanked in the afternoon, then recovered into the close. The Dow, which had added more than 330 points at its zenith, managed to hang on to an 82-point gain, finishing up 0.4% to 23,675. Blame energy stocks for much of the weakness. Crude oil prices sank by more than 7% to $46.24 per barrel -- the lowest point since August 2017 -- weighing heavily once again on industrial average components Exxon Mobil (XOM, -2.8%) and Chevron (CVX, -2.4%). Dow health-care stocks including UnitedHealth Group (UNH, -2.0%) and Pfizer (PFE , -1.7%) also slumped as Wall Street tries to determine the effects of a recent court ruling against the Affordable Care Act.

Many market observers are looking ahead to Wednesday's Federal Reserve decision on interest rates for a sign of where the market is going next. But understand that interest-rate concerns are just one of several factors weighing on the market right now. Even if Wall Street reacts well to a decision tomorrow, it might not stick without help in other areas. For now? Stay protected. From the buying front, that means examining defensively positioned stocks and low-volatility funds that help smooth out rocky times such as these. But you can also preserve your portfolio by not stepping into bear traps. These seven stocks, which Wall Street is souring on, are a good place to start. But as we head into 2019, whole areas of the market look rife with risk. As you try to address this volatile market, keep a close eye out for all 10 of these investing trouble spots.

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