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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) is up 30.99 points, or 0.2%, to 16,229.40 at midday, as investors digest testimony from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. Speaking to the Senate Banking Committee, Yellen said that recent economic reports "have pointed to softer spending than many analysts had expected. Part of that softness may reflect adverse weather conditions, but at this point it is difficult to discern how much." The head of the central bank followed up by noting that it would take a "significant change" for the Fed to diverge from its current tapering plan. Today's economic data points, meanwhile, showed a higher-than-expected rise in weekly jobless claims and a lower-than-forecast drop in durable goods. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, orders increased 1.1% -- the highest since last May.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 12 options exchanges stands at 0.74. Roughly 3.27 million calls, compared to about 2.42 million puts, have crossed the tape so far.
- Among the names seeing call-heavy activity is American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AXL) which is up 3.6% on no apparent news to trade at $19.74. Overall option volume on the auto parts maker is running at nearly 23 times the typical intraday pace, and 99% of the trades have occurred on the call side.
The Nasdaq shows an advance/decline ratio of 1.17, with advancers having the slight edge over decliners.
- One of the biggest advancers on the Nasdaq today is Wall Street newcomer Zulily Inc (NASDAQ:ZU), which has tacked on 12.4% to $69.20. The stock is continuing to gain ground after a solid quarterly earnings showing this week, and earlier in the session tagged the $72.22 mark -- its loftiest perch since going public in mid-November.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) has dropped 0.25 point, or 1.7%, to 14.10. Earlier, the market's "fear gauge" fell to 14, but found a foothold and bounced from this important level.
The iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX) has climbed 0.20 point, or 0.46%, to $43.40. Meanwhile, the ETN's put/call volume ratio stands at 0.86, with call volume outpacing put volume.
View a real-time chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI).