Schaeffer's Trading Floor Blog
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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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shows an advance/decline ratio of 1.53, with the number of upward movers outstripping the decliners.

  5. 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.

  6. 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%.
Unusual Option Volume at Midday

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