Schaeffer's Trading Floor Blog
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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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shows an advance/decline ratio of 1.57, with the number of upward movers outstripping the decliners.

  5. 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.
Unusual Option Volume at Midday

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