Are You Reading the Right News Today?

Thank goodness it's Friday. I'm not sure I could take another market day as weird as this one without a few days of R&R in between.

Just look at the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) . The blue-chip index started off like most days in recent memory, which means sliding downward in a 0.4% death spiral. Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt.

But then President Obama took a meeting with congressional leaders to discuss solutions to the upcoming fiscal cliff crisis -- and to everyone's surprise, both sides seem willing to compromise and make a deal that actually works.

"This isn't something we're going to wait until the last day of December to get it done," said Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid. Republican House speaker John Boehner also extended an olive branch across the aisle, searching for "a fair and balanced approach."

Bipartisan agreement on issues that matter. Imagine that. Infrastructure players Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) , Alcoa (NYSE: AA  ) , and United Technologies (NYSE: UTX  ) perked up in a hurry, smelling smaller cuts to government contracts than previously feared. The Dow jumped into positive territory right away, peaking at a 0.5% gain before falling back toward the breakeven line.

Oh, but things get weirder from there. Fiscal cliff discussions may shape our nation's future in many ways, and the topic deserves to be the most talked-about news of the day. Instead, we're all watching a beloved privately owned company go bankrupt.

The most-read article at the Wall Street Journal today? "Twinkie Maker Hostess to Close." That nugget also rules the roost at the Washington Post and at CNN Money ... well, a picture speaks volumes:



Sure, people are talking about the good old cliff, and you might even notice that Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) workers are planning a strike on Black Friday just to maximize the impact of their actions. But does anybody care?

Not when our Twinkies are in danger.

As an antidote to these severely skewed priorities, I'd like to point out that the Twinkies disaster hasn't cracked the top five list here at the Fool yet. Here, readers want to learn more about successful investing and the state of our economy. Hostess isn't even mentioned on The Economist's home page. Listen hard enough and you'll still find a few voices of reason. If you're serious about investing and planning for your retirement, you should ignore the snack-cake chatter and focus on the real news.

Caterpillar is the market share leader in an industry in which size matters, and its quality products, extensive service network, and unparalleled brand strength combine to give it solid competitive advantages. Read all about Caterpillar's strengths and weaknesses in our brand-new report. Just click here to access it now.

And on that note, I'm taking a 48-hour break from the market's silliness. Might even have a Twinkie or two along the way.


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