Schaeffer's Trading Floor Blog
Stocks quoted in this article:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 13,405.64) is up 15 points, or 0.1%, paring earlier gains triggered by a positive Chinese trade report. Meanwhile, wholesale inventories rose by 0.6% in November to a seasonally adjusted $498.95 billion, according to the Commerce Department. Economists, on average, had predicted an increase of just 0.3%. On a more downbeat note, the Labor Department said initial jobless claims climbed by 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 371,000 last week, disappointing economists who were expecting a drop to 363,000. Elsewhere, the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 13.77) is 0.04 point, or 0.3%, lower.

Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:

  1. The equity put/call volume ratio across all 11 options exchanges sits at 0.85, with 3.7 million calls traded so far today, versus 3.2 million puts.

  2. Among the equities with call-skewed activity is SUPERVALU INC. (NYSE:SVU - 3.26), which has spiked about 7% despite reporting weaker-than-expected quarterly earnings ahead of the open. Instead, investors are applauding news that Cerberus Capital Management is acquiring the supermarket operator's Albertsons chain. Under the terms of the deal, the private-equity firm will purchase 30% of SVU's stock at $4 per share, reflecting a 31% premium to yesterday's closing price of $3.04. Currently, calls make up 70.3% of the security's intraday option volume.

  3. The put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX - 27.04) -- which tagged yet another record low of 26.67 during the morning hours of trading -- stands at 1.30, with puts outnumbering calls.

  4. The Nasdaq shows an advance/decline ratio of 0.92, with the number of downward movers slightly outstripping the advancers.

  5. Among the Nasdaq's major decliners is Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. (NASDAQ:RRGB - 34.75), which has shed almost 4% in intraday trading, after being downgraded to "neutral" from "buy" at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

  6. Optimism increased during the week ended Jan. 9, 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 46.5% from 38.7%, while the percentage bearish fell to 26.9% from 36.2%. Meanwhile, the percentage neutral climbed to 26.6% from 25.1%.
Unusual Option Volume at Midday

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