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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) is well on its way to extending its losing streak to six sessions, as investors remain nervous ahead of minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) most recent meeting. The highly anticipated insight is due at 2:00 p.m. ET, and will be scrutinized intensely for any clues as to when the central bank may slacken its bond-buying efforts. The Dow is currently sitting below the round-number 15,000 mark -- which hasn't been violated on a closing basis since July 3 -- and is off 76 points, or 0.5%, at 14,926.52.
In economic news, existing home sales showed improvement in July, surging 6.5% to an annual rate of 5.39 million units. The reading marked a three-year high, and handily exceeded economists' expectations. Sales advanced in all four major regions of the U.S., and the median price for a previously owned home spiked 13.7% during the last 12 months to $213,500.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 12 options exchanges stands near 0.89, with roughly 2.44 million calls crossing the tape, compared to about 2.19 million puts.
- Trina Solar Limited (ADR) (NYSE:TSL) is seeing call-slanted activity today, with nearly 79% of all options volume dedicated to the call side. This trend is not surprising, as the stock has spiked more than 13.5% to its current perch of $8.88, and earlier hit a new annual high of $9.12. TSL earned a host of bullish brokerage attention today after it upped its forecast for sales in China. Other names in the sector have rallied on the news.
- The advance/decline ratio at the Nasdaq measures 0.49. Decliners have thus far outpaced advancers by a margin of just over 2-to-1.
- One notable decliner at the Nasdaq today is PetSmart, Inc. (NASDAQ:PETM), which is currently off 4.8% at $71.42. This move follows the retailer's earnings report, which was roughly in line with analysts' estimates. PetSmart upped its earnings-per-share guidance for the fiscal year, but left its same-store sales estimate unchanged.
- The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) has zoomed higher today, up 1.3 points, or 8.7%, at 16.21. The VIX has not closed above the 16 mark since July 3.
- The put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX) -- which is up 2.9% at a three-week high of 15.65 -- stands at 0.99, with calls and puts running neck-and-neck at midday.
View a real-time chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI).