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There are no certainties with the markets, and if there were Wall Street certainly wouldn't tell us!!! My view on investing is that you can only stack the deck in your favor, by selecting companies whose basic indicators (technical, fundamental, and environmental) are sound. I define long-term investing as NOT jumping on the latest bandwagon, which more often than not seems to be when a stock is peaking and institutional investors are just trying to wring some additional buying pressure from a naive public by hyping the company on CNBC or some such nonsense.

If I were you, and you are truly new, I would park some money in the S&P 500 index fund and set up a mock portfolio with, say $10,000. Trade for a year with this practice money and see how you do. I first learned by "investing" this way in mutual funds for a year before using my own hard-earned $. Then I did mutuals for real and practiced with a stock portfolio at the same time. Now i've abandoned mutuals and moved everything into actual stock; and i'm researching and practicing with options. Has been an enormously rewarding experience, without the grief and anxiety associated with constant second-guessing.

Not saying my approach is for you (or anyone else), but patience and due diligence WILL pay off. I'm up substantially I feel because of my practicum, but at the same time I truly feel bad for many who lost a lot of money this past year. It will be awhile before those who got burned recover enough to tread back in.


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