Stocks started the day in very negative territory but at 10 a.m. EST, the market turned positive on -- you guessed it -- hope that we may avert the fiscal cliff. Speaker Boehner and President Obama both made comments that gave investors hope that a deal will be reached by the new year. As a result, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was up 0.65% near the end of trading, and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) has risen 0.50%.

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) led the Dow's winners with a 2.5% gain today. The company said it uncovered documents that backed its accusations of accounting irregularities at Autonomy before its acquisition. This is another "he said, she said" battle of corporate executives, and it's a stock worth avoiding at all costs right now. The good days simply aren't worth risking the downside that comes on its bad days.

Chevron (NYSE:CVX) is up 1.6% today, bucking a down day for oil. The company won a bid for drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico about 140 miles south of Galveston, Texas. The company will pay $17.2 million for the rights, beating out 12 other bidders.

Elsewhere in energy, the EPA announced that BP (NYSE:BP) was suspended from bidding on drilling contracts similar to the one Chevron won today. The agency cited a "lack of business integrity" in relation to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The length of the suspension wasn't announced, but it appears unlikely it will last more than 18 months.

Buy value into the fiscal cliff
Stocks will continue to fluctuate up and down every day on fiscal cliff rumors. What investors can do to protect themselves while giving upside potential for the future is focus on dividend stocks.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.