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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) is modestly lower at midday, with the blue-chip barometer down 29.2 points, or 0.2%, at 16,366.70, as investors mull over a batch of dreary economic data that hit the Street. Specifically, amid a chilly winter, Automatic Data Processing (ADP) said this morning that private employers added fewer jobs than expected last month, while the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) nonmanufacturing index for February also missed consensus estimates. Looking ahead, the Fed's Beige Book will be released at 2 p.m. ET. Elsewhere, the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) tagged another record intraday high of 1,876.53 earlier, but was last seen lingering below breakeven at 1,874.49.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 12 options exchanges is currently perched at 0.64, with calls outpacing puts. So far today, 3.81 million calls have changed hands, compared to 2.47 million puts.
Among the equities seeing heavy call trading today is Ciena Corporation (NYSE:CIEN), which is up 1.7% to $25.11 ahead of tomorrow morning's fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report. At last check, more than 90% of the day's intraday option volume has occurred on the call side.
The advance/decline ratio on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) stands at 0.75, with declining stocks having the slight edge over advancing ones.
One of the biggest decliners on the Big Board this afternoon is HCI Group Inc (NYSE:HCI), after the insurance company last night reported fourth-quarter earnings results that missed both top- and bottom-line estimates. Despite a price-target hike to $52 from $48 at JMP Securities overnight, the stock was last seen 15.4% lower at $42.21.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is up 0.06 point, or 0.4%, to 14.16. However, the "fear gauge" is still on track to notch a second consecutive session south of its 10-day moving average.
Today's put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX) stands at 0.75, with call volume outstripping put volume. The ETN has added 0.6% at midday to $43.49.
View a real-time chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI).