Schaeffer's Trading Floor Blog
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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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. The Nasdaq shows an advance/decline ratio of 0.77, with the number of downward movers outstripping the advancers.

  5. 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.
Unusual Option Volume at Midday

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