Stocks quoted in this article:
After a few futile attempts to break into the black, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) is decisively lower at midday, as another tech-sector sell-off has overshadowed relatively upbeat economic data. Most notably, first-time filings for unemployment benefits fell by 32,000 last week -- steeper than expected, and marking the biggest decline since late 2012 -- to a seasonally adjusted, near-seven-year low of 300,000. Elsewhere on the economic front, U.S. import prices rose by more than expected in March, primarily due to a surge in natural gas prices, while export prices increased by their largest margin since September 2012. At last check, the Dow is down 111.3 points, or 0.7%, to 16,325.89.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 12 options exchanges is currently perched at 0.85, with calls outpacing puts. So far today, 3.90 million calls have changed hands, compared to 3.32 million puts.
- One name seeing heavy call trading today is drugstore concern Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE:RAD), which is 11.7% higher at $7.15. Earlier in the session, the stock tagged a near-13-year peak of $7.39, after the firm reported stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings and offered upbeat guidance for 2015. So far, nearly 84% of today's option volume has traded on the call side.
- The advance/decline ratio on the Nasdaq stands at 0.28, with declining stocks more than tripling advancing issues.
- One of the biggest downward movers on the exchange today is data security firm FireEye Inc (NASDAQ:FEYE), which has surrendered 9.8% to $50.86 in sympathy with sector peer Imperva Inc. (NYSE:IMPV).
- The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is up 1.1 points, or 8.3%, at 14.96. The "fear barometer" is now back in the black for the week, up 3.7%.
- Today's put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX) stands at 0.67, with call volume outpacing put volume so far. The ETN has added 2.2% at midday to $41.88.
View a real-time chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI).