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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) has shrugged off early weakness to trade higher, with the blue-chip index up 58.2 points, or 0.3%, at 16,183.22. M&A news in the jewelry sector has bolstered optimism about the collective health of the corporate pocketbook, helping to overshadow mixed economic data. Housing starts fell by more than expected in January, while producer prices rose by more than expected last month. This afternoon, all eyes will be on the central bank, with the latest Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting minutes slated for release at 2 p.m. ET.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 12 options exchanges is currently perched at 0.82, with calls outpacing puts. So far today, 3.76 million calls have changed hands, compared to 3.12 million puts.
- One name seeing heavy call trading today (on a relative basis) is pharmaceutical firm Mylan Inc (NASDAQ:MYL), which is enjoying a halo lift from sector peer Actavis PLC's (NYSE:ACT) buyout of Forest Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE:FRX). In fact, MYL touched a record high of $50.78 today, but has trimmed its lead to 4.5% to trade at $50.46. Against this backdrop, more than three-quarters of today's option volume has traded on the call side.
- The advance/decline ratio on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) stands at 1.71, with advancing stocks outpacing the declining issues.
- One of the biggest upward movers on the Big Board today is Lithia Motors Inc (NYSE:LAD), which is celebrating stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings. At midday, the auto dealer is flirting with a 7% lead at $63.09.
- The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is up 0.7 point, or 4.7%, to 14.52. A close north of 14 would be the first in three sessions for the "fear gauge."
- Today's put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX) stands at 2.71, with put volume nearly tripling call volume so far. The ETN has gained 1.1% at midday to $41.88.
View a real-time chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average 2 Minute (INDEXDJX:.DJI).