Stocks quoted in this article:
While Democrats and Republicans continue to face off over fiscal-cliff negotiations, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 13,250.11) is down 2 points, or 0.01%, as Wall Street mulls over a bevy of economic data. The Labor Department revealed that weekly jobless claims rose by 17,000 to a seasonally adjusted rate of 361,000 last week, falling in line with economists' projections. Also, the final gross domestic product (GDP) reading for the third quarter was upwardly revised to 3.1%, topping economists projections for a revised reading of 2.8%. Meanwhile, the Conference Board said its index of leading economic indicators dropped by an expected 0.2% last month. In addition, home prices rose 0.5% in October -- according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) -- which was slightly higher than the 0.4% increase predicted by economists. Rounding out today's report docket, the National Association of Realtors stated that existing home sales climbed 5.9% in November, hitting their highest level in three years. Against this backdrop, the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 17.35) is 0.01 point, or 0.1%, lower.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 11 options exchanges checks in at 0.54, with 5.1 million calls traded so far today, compared to 2.8 million puts.
- Among the equities with call-skewed activity is Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ:ILMN - 55.94), which has jumped more than 7% -- and tagged a new annual high of $57 -- amid rumors that Swiss drug manufacturer Roche may have agreed to acquire the company for $66 per share. Currently, calls account for 69.2% of ILMN's intraday option volume.
- The put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX - 30.29) sits at 1.20, with puts outpacing calls.
- The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shows an advance/decline ratio of 1.53, with the number of upward movers outstripping the decliners.
- Among the NYSE's major advancers is Jabil Circuit, Inc. (NYSE:JBL - 20.17), which has gained about 8.6% in intraday trading, after reporting better-than-expected fiscal first-quarter earnings post-close yesterday.
- Optimism increased during the week ended Dec. 19, according to the latest survey by the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII). The percentage of investors with a bullish view on stocks rose to 46.4% from 43.2%, while the percentage bearish fell to 24.8% from 30.1%. Meanwhile, the percentage neutral climbed to 28.8% from 26.7%.