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Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) and the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) are positioned modestly higher at midday, with the latter notching yet another record intraday peak of 1,890.63 earlier. As investors anxiously await this Friday's all-important nonfarm employment report, an encouraging reading on ADP's private payrolls has helped keep markets above breakeven. Elsewhere on the economic front, factory orders for February jumped by a wider margin than economists had projected. Against this backdrop, the DJI is up 15.6 points, or 0.1%, at 16,548.02 -- roughly 40 points below its all-time intraday peak. The S&P 500, meanwhile, is flirting with a 3.7-point lead, to linger near 1,889.26.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 12 options exchanges stands at 0.71. Roughly 3.66 million calls, compared to about 2.61 million puts, have crossed the tape so far.
Among the names seeing call-heavy activity today is DFC Global Corp (NASDAQ:DLLR), which has tacked on 5.7% this afternoon to trade at $9.49. Earlier, the pawn shop and payday lender said it is being acquired by Lone Star Funds, a private equity firm, for $9.50 per share in cash. At last check, more than 95% of the day's intraday options volume had occurred on the call side.
- The New York Stock Exchange shows an advance/decline ratio of 1.25, with advancers having the slight edge over declining stocks.
One of the biggest advancers on the Big Board today is lighting solutions specialist Acuity Brands, Inc. (NYSE:AYI), which has jumped 2.7% to $137.08. An upbeat outlook from CEO Vernon Nagel has overshadowed this morning's fiscal second-quarter earnings results that missed analysts' estimates. Specifically, Nagel expects the lighting industry to "experience solid growth over the next decade," and said "the year-over-year increase in net sales reflects continued favorable trends in order rates as well as the continued adoption of LED lighting solutions, which again more than doubled over the prior year."
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is down 0.04 point, or 0.3%, at 13.06. Earlier, the market's "fear gauge" breached the 13 mark for the first time since Jan. 22.
The iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX) is up 0.6% today to linger near $40.99. Meanwhile, the ETN's put/call volume ratio stands at 2.72, with put volume nearly tripling call volume.
View a real-time chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average 2 Minute (INDEXDJX:.DJI).