Schaeffer's Trading Floor Blog
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) is up 59 points, or 0.4%, to 15,283.83, after Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA) unofficially kicked off the earnings season on a positive note post-close yesterday. (However, the blue-chip component has reversed course since this morning, and is now trading slightly lower.) Meanwhile, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said its small-business optimism index arrived at 93.5 last month. Although the latest figure fell in line with consensus estimates, it reflected a decrease from May's reading of 94.4.

Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:

  1. The equity put/call volume ratio across all 11 options exchanges stands at 1.09, with 3.3 million puts traded so far today, compared to 3.1 million calls.

  2. Among the equities with put-skewed activity is Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISRG), which has seen 70.3% of its volume cross on the put side of the tape. The equity's off a staggering 17.8% -- and sank to a new annual low of $410 this morning -- after projecting weaker-than-expected second-quarter earnings. The news also prompted a slew of downgrades/price-target cuts from JMP Securities, Canaccord Genuity, Goldman Sachs, Lazard, Raymond James, and Wedbush Securities. The stock is now hovering at $411.07.

  3. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shows an advance/decline ratio of 2.51, with the number of upward movers more than doubling the decliners.

  4. Among the NYSE's major advancers is Cliffs Natural Resources Inc (NYSE:CLF), which has gained about 4.4% in intraday action, after the company announced that its board of directors approved a quarterly cash dividend of 15 cents per share. CLF is presently trading at $16.66.

  5. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is 0.4 point, or 2.4%, lower, to rest at 14.43.

  6. The put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX) -- which touched a new record low of 17.63 earlier today and is currently docked at 17.75 -- checks in at 1.42, with puts outnumbering calls.

View a real-time chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI).

Unusual Option Volume at Midday

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