Schaeffer's Trading Floor Blog
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI - 14,612.85) is down 49 points, or 0.3%, following a pair of downbeat economic reports. Automatic Data Processing Inc. (ADP) said the private sector added just 158,000 jobs last month, falling short of economists' projections. Meanwhile, the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) non-manufacturing index arrived at 54.4 in March from 56.0 in February -- reflecting a larger-than-expected monthly decline, and marking its lowest level since August 2012.

Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:

  1. The equity put/call volume ratio across all 11 options exchanges stands at 1.00, with both calls and puts seeing roughly 3.0 million contracts exchanged so far today.

  2. Among the equities with call-skewed activity is Dean Foods Co (NYSE:DF - 17.82), which has shed nearly 2% since the opening bell, despite a lack of notable news drivers. Currently, calls represent 64.9% of the security's intraday option volume. On the other end of the trading spectrum is Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ASTX - 5.69), which has seen 94.7% of its option volume cross on the put side of the tape. However, the stock has climbed 12.7% today -- and tagged a new multi-year high of $5.81 -- after analysts at RBC started coverage of ASTX with an "outperform" rating and a price target of $9, and said the company could be a potential takeover target for Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD).

  3. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shows an advance/decline ratio of 0.36, with the number of downward movers almost tripling the advancers.

  4. Among the NYSE's major decliners is Tesoro Corporation (NYSE:TSO - 52.57), which has shed 4.5% in intraday action. The petroleum refiner is suffering a sector-wide drop today, as a number of these companies are currently battling a recent spike in renewable energy credit costs.

  5. The CBOE Market Volatility Index (INDEXCBOE:VIX - 13.23) is 0.5 point, or 3.5%, higher.

  6. The put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX - 19.92) -- which sank to yet another record low of 19.56 this morning -- is docked at 0.71, with calls outnumbering puts.
Unusual Option Volume at Midday

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