Stocks quoted in this article:
After flirting with an 80-plus-point gain in the first half of the session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) turned tail amid waning employment-related enthusiasm, and was last seen 21.9 points higher at 16,443.79. Likewise, the S&P 500 Index (SPX) notched yet another record intraday high out of the gate, peaking at 1,883.57, but has since retreated into the red.
Nonfarm payrolls rose by a seasonally adjusted 175,000 last month, the Labor Department reported, topping economists' expectations for a 152,000-jobs rise. Furthermore, payroll growth was upwardly revised for both January and December. However, the unemployment rate unexpectedly grew to 6.7% from 6.6% in January, compared to projections for a drop to 6.5%.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 12 options exchanges is currently perched at 0.76, with calls outpacing puts. So far today, 4.16 million calls have changed hands, compared to 3.18 million puts.
- One name seeing heavy call trading today is athletic apparel retailer Foot Locker, Inc. (NYSE:FL), which is up 5.9% at $45.23 after unveiling stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings. What's more, the stock touched a record high of $46.80 right out of the gate. So far, nearly 90% of today's option volume has traded on the call side.
- The advance/decline ratio on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) stands at 0.57, with declining stocks outnumbering the advancing issues.
- One of the biggest downward movers on the Big Board today is Alpha Natural Resources, Inc. (NYSE:ANR), which has plummeted 8.7% to $5.01 after a downgrade to "neutral" from "sell" at Goldman Sachs. The brokerage firm attributed the negative revision to a "lackluster recovery" in steelmaking coal prices, due to cooling demand in China and growing Australian supply.
- The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) has spent time on both sides of breakeven today, trading in a relatively wide range between 13.51 and 14.40. At last check, the market's "fear gauge" is up 0.2 point, or 1.1%, at 14.36.
- Today's put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX) stands at 0.86, with call volume outpacing put volume so far. The ETN has gained 1.4% at midday to $43.56.
View a real-time chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average 2 Minute (INDEXDJX:.DJI).