Stocks quoted in this article:
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 12,964.26) is down 3 points, or 0.02%, as Wall Street continues to focus on the impending fiscal cliff. On the economic front, the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index rose 0.3% in September -- marking a sixth straight month of growth -- while the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported that home prices climbed by 0.2% during the same timeframe. Also of note, the Conference Board said its consumer confidence index arrived at a four-year peak of 73.7 in November, up slightly from last month's reading of 73.1, while the Commerce Department said durable goods orders were flat in October, besting expectations for a 1.2% drop. Elsewhere, the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 15.03) is 0.5 point, or 3%, lower.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 10 options exchanges checks in at 0.87, with 2.8 million calls traded so far today, compared to 2.5 million puts.
- Among the equities with call-skewed activity is ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE:CAG - 29.54), which has gained around 4.4% today, while also tagging a new multi-year high of $29.67. The company revealed plans to acquire private-label producer Ralcorp Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:RAH) for approximately $4.95 billion. Currently, calls make up 92.1% of CAG's intraday option volume.
- The put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX - 29.72) -- which touched yet another record low of $29.32 earlier in the session -- sits at 0.71, with calls outnumbering puts.
- The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shows an advance/decline ratio of 1.57, with the number of upward movers outstripping the decliners.
- Among the NYSE's major advancers is Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS - 46.20), which has added about 5% in intraday trading, after its board approved a special $2.75 per-share dividend in an effort to bolster shareholder returns.