Stocks quoted in this article:
As investors await Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech in New York City, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 12,784.41) is down 12 points, or 0.1%, thanks to downbeat news out of the euro zone, as well as Hewlett-Packard Company's (NYSE:HPQ) lackluster earnings report. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said that housing starts rose 3.6% in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 894,000. This latest figure -- which marked a more than four-year high -- bested economists' expectations for a drop to 825,000. Elsewhere, the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 15.23) is 0.01 point, or 0.1%, lower.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 10 options exchanges sits at 0.80, with 2.9 million calls crossing the tape so far today, versus 2.3 million puts.
- Among the equities with call-heavy activity is Archer Daniels Midland Company (NYSE:ADM - 26.09), which climbed about 2% today. The stock was upgraded to "outperform" from "market perform" and saw its price target lifted to $32 from $26 at BMO ahead of the open. Currently, calls account for 97.1% of the security's intraday option volume.
- The put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX - 31.45) -- which tagged a record low of $31.26 earlier in the session -- stands at 1.76, with puts almost doubling calls.
- The Nasdaq shows an advance/decline ratio of 0.77, with the number of downward movers outstripping the advancers.
- Among the Nasdaq's major decliners is Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC - 19.55), which has shed about 3.5% and tagged a new annual low of $19.50 in intraday trading. The equity received some negative analyst attention this morning after announcing a major senior management change yesterday.