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"This morning's housing data was actually pretty strong overall, but failed to push the market in any meaningful way at the outset," reported Schaeffer's Senior Equity Analyst Joe Bell, CMT. "The positive news, combined with the fact that many major indexes are trading near technical support areas, was enough to keep the market afloat and finish in positive territory." After two days of triple-digit declines, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) spent much of the day close to the flat line, but surged higher into the close. Still, both the Dow and the S&P 500 Index (SPX) were slightly lower on a week-over-week basis.

Continue reading for more on today's market, including:

Trading Topic of the Week -- Ways to Interpret Short Interest: Look at option activity. Speculative action can offer an interesting context for short interest, adding a further dimension to your overall sentiment analysis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 16,491.31) hugged the breakeven line for much of the day, but turned markedly higher during the final two hours of the session, closing with a gain of 44.5 points, or 0.3%. It wasn't enough to salvage the week, however; the blue-chip index logged a weekly deficit of 0.6%. Verizon Communications, Inc. (NYSE:VZ) paced the Dow's 19 advancers with a gain of 2.3%, while United Technologies Corporation (NYSE:UTX) brought up the rear, shedding 1% on the day.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,877.86) also posted a late-session gain, ending up 7 points, or 0.4%, to finish the week just 0.03% lower. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,090.59) outperformed its peers on a daily and weekly basis, rising 21.3 points, or 0.5%, during today's session, closing 0.5% higher for the week.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 12.44) pulled back in Friday's trading, shedding 5.5%, or 0.7 point, to settle back south of the 13 level. Week-over-week, meanwhile, the market's "fear gauge" was down 3.7%.



A Trader's Take:

"Given how weak small-caps have been, it was nice to see them shrug off the bad start yesterday and finish near their highs," noted Bell. "It was even more encouraging to see them confirm that support area with a positive day today. We could be in for continued volatility, though, as these past two days haven't delivered much in the way of high trading volume."

5 Items on Our Radar Today:

  1. Housing starts rose 13.2% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.07 million, the Census Bureau noted this morning. The reading came in north of economists' expectations, and was largely attributable to a jump in multi-family construction sales. Elsewhere, building permits rose 8% month-over-month. (USA Today)
  2. Also surprising economists was the preliminary Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan sentiment index, which unexpectedly dropped to 81.8 from April's final reading of 84.1. Possibly responsible for the dip were escalating food and gasoline prices. (Bloomberg)
  3. St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard opined that the U.S. economy will expand at a "robust" pace through the end of 2014, despite the first-quarter gross domestic product reading, which was virtually unchanged. Bullard -- who is currently not a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee -- also noted the central bank is "much closer to its policy goals than it has been in the past five years." (Bloomberg Businessweek)
  4. Option bulls stayed positive on BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) shares on the final trading day of May-dated options.
  5. In the wake of its lackluster earnings report, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) was hit with negative attention on Wall Street.

For a look at today's options movers and commodities activity, head to page 2.

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