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Not even a well-received earnings report from Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) can save the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) today, with the index off 189 points, or 1.2%, at last check. Today's sell-off was sparked by a sharp decline in emerging market currencies, as investors worry over the state of developing economies following last month's tapering of the Federal Reserve's asset-purchase program. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is scheduled to begin its next monthly policy-setting meeting on Tuesday. Against this backdrop, the blue-chip barometer was last seen churning near 16,008.33 heading into the final half of the session, after earlier breaching the psychologically significant 16,000 mark for the first time since Dec. 18.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 12 options exchanges stands at 0.99. Roughly 5.76 million puts, compared to an equivalent number of calls, have crossed the tape so far.
- Among equities seeing put-skewed activity today is Endeavour International Corporation (NYSE:END), which has shed 3.3% to trade at $6.66. At last check, all of END's intraday options activity had occurred on the put side. This marks a change of pace for option players, based on END's 50-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) call/put volume ratio of 27.65, which ranks in the 99th annual percentile. In other words, calls have been scooped up over puts at a near-annual-high clip in recent weeks.
- The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shows an advance/decline ratio of 0.13, with the number of declining stocks outpacing advancing ones by a margin of nearly 10-to-1.
- One of the biggest losers on the Big Board today is International Game Technology (NYSE:IGT), which has shed 12.1% to churn near $15.49. The global gaming concern last night reported a fiscal first-quarter profit that fell short of consensus estimates, which sparked a round of bearish analyst notes from no fewer than seven brokerage firms.
- In the latest American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) poll, the percentage of bulls dipped 0.9 percentage point to 38.1% -- the lowest reading since late November. The percentage of neutral investors also slid -- to 38.1% from 39.5% -- while the percentage of bears increased to 23.8% from 21.5%.
- The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) has jumped 2.2 points, or 15.6%, to 15.92. Depending on how the rest of the session shakes out, the market's "fear gauge" could notch its first weekly close north of the 16 mark since early October.
- The iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX) is up 1.9 points, or 4.5%, at $42.95. Meanwhile, the ETN's put/call volume ratio stands at 1.03, with calls and puts relatively even-keeled.
View a real-time chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average 2 Minute (INDEXDJX:.DJI).