5 Liquid Bank Stocks With Highest Dividend Yields

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- During times of market uncertainty, stocks of profitable companies with high dividend yields are often cited as defensive plays.

This could be one of those times, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 7% year-to-date through Tuesday's close, while the S&P 500 was down 6%.

Bank stocks have been hard as well, with the KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) has given up 5.4% this year, including Monday's decline of 2.7%. That's not such a large decline, but it follows increases of 35% in 2013 and 30% in 2012. Meanwhile, the KBW Regional Bank Index (KRX) was down 3.8% on Tuesday for a year-to-date decline of 9% during 2014, following a 44% increase during 2013.

The broad indices were all up Tuesday morning, as were most bank stocks, as the market rebounded a bit from a very painful Monday session.  Looking ahead, investors could be in for a rough ride later this week, because Automated Data Processing will release its employment report on Thursday, followed by the Department of Labor's official employment on Friday, which will include the national unemployment rate.

The unemployment rate declined to 6.7% in December from 7.0% in November, however, the market reaction was mixed when that was announced on Jan. 10, because the U.S. economy added only 74,000 nonfarm jobs during December, which was way short of the 192,000 expected opn average by economists polled by Thomson Reuters.  Another negative factor in the December employment report was that the improved unemployment rate was driven in part by a 0.2% decline in the labor participation rate to 62.8%.  The labor participation rate declined 0.8% during 2013, with a large number of people effectively been driven from the labor force.

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