Stocks quoted in this article:
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 13,056.18) is up 22 points, or 0.2%, as discussions regarding the impending fiscal cliff continue in Washington. Meanwhile, the Labor Department reported that weekly jobless claims fell by 25,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 370,000. Economists, on average, had projected a decline to just 375,000. Elsewhere, the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 16.33) is 0.1 point, or 0.8%, lower.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 10 options exchanges sits at 0.83, with 3 million calls traded so far today, versus 2.5 million puts.
- Among the equities with heavy call activity is MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM - 10.65), which has gained about 7% today, thanks to reports that the company will launch a $4 billion refinancing credit at a lender meeting tomorrow. Separately, MGM announced a cash tender offer for its outstanding senior secured notes -- totaling about $3.1 billion -- due between 2013 and 2020. Currently, calls account for 87.1% of the casino operator's intraday option volume.
- The put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX - 30.25) stands at 0.36, with calls almost tripling puts.
- The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shows an advance/decline ratio of 1.16, with the number of upward movers slightly outstripping the decliners.
- Among the NYSE's major advancers is Safeway Inc. (NYSE:SWY - 18.26), which has added around 4.6% in intraday trading, after its board revealed plans to pay a quarterly cash dividend of about $0.18 per share on Dec. 31, instead of in January.
- Optimism increased during the week ended Dec. 5, according to the latest survey by the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII). The percentage of investors with a bullish view on stocks climbed to 42.2% from 40.9%, while the percentage bearish inched up to 34.6% from 34.4%. Meanwhile, the percentage neutral fell to 23.2% from 24.7%.