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Dividend stocks to watch in sluggish markets

After markets barely gained ground Thursday, "Fast Money" traders looked to dividend-paying stocks that could potentially boost returns.

Major U.S. averages finished slightly positive on the day, but the S&P 500 has fallen more than 6 percent this year. In that environment, some investors have started to search for yield.

"Fast Money" traders focused on stocks with steady recent performance and above-average yields, avoiding the oil industry as some companies trim dividends . Verizon, which has climbed 9 percent this year and has a 4.5 percent dividend yield, looks appealing, said trader Karen Finerman.

The Mattel sign is pictured at the Nuremberg International Toy Fair, Jan. 29, 2014, in Nuremberg, Germany.
Getty Images
The Mattel sign is pictured at the Nuremberg International Toy Fair, Jan. 29, 2014, in Nuremberg, Germany.

Trader Guy Adami touted shares of toy maker Mattel, which have climbed 18 percent this year, boosted by stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings. The stock also rose Thursday amid reports that it held talks with Hasbro about a possible merger.

Mattel has a yield of 4.8 percent.

Traders Brian Kelly and Steve Grasso looked to tobacco company Philip Morris, which has a yield of 4.6 percent. The stock has ticked 1 percent higher this year, but Kelly believes it has more room to run.

Disclosures:

Guy Adami

Guy Adami is long CELG, EXAS, GDX, INTC, Guy Adami's wife, Linda Snow, works at Merck.

Karen Finerman

Karen is long BAC, C, FL, GOOG, GOOGL, JPM, LYV, KORS, M, SEDG, SPY calls, URI, she is short SPY. Her firm is long ANTM, AAPL, BAC, C, C calls, FINL, FL, GOOG, GOOGL, JPM, KORS, LYV, M, MOH, NRF, PLCE, URI, her firm is short IWM, MDY, SPY. Karen Finerman is on the board of GrafTech International.

Steve Grasso

Steve is Long AAPL, AEO, BA, BAC, CC, DD, DIS, DECK, EVGN, KBH, MJNA, MU, OLN, PFE, PHM, T, TWTR, GDX firm is long CXO, OXY, BP, CVX, RIG kids own EFA, EFG, EWJ, IJR, SPY

Brian Kelly

Brian Kelly is long BBRY, Bitcoin, GLD, SLV, TLT, US Dollar; he is short Aussie Dollar, British Pound, CS, DB, EWH, Hong Kong Dollar, UBS, SPY, Yuan.