Stocks quoted in this article:
On the heels of the Fed's latest policy decision, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 13,212.21) is down 33 points, or 0.3%, as anxieties regarding the rapidly approaching fiscal cliff have overshadowed a pair of positive economic reports. Specifically, the Labor Department revealed that weekly jobless claims fell by 29,000 to a seasonally adjusted 343,000 last week, besting economists' expectations for a drop to just 367,000. Meanwhile, retail sales rose by 0.3% in November, according to the Commerce Department, a marked improvement over the previous month's 0.3% decline. Economists, on average, had projected a climb of 0.5%. At the other end of the spectrum, the Labor Department's producer price index (PPI) decreased by 0.8% last month, disappointing economists who were predicting a decline of just 0.5%. Elsewhere, the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 16.20) is 0.3 point, or 1.6%, higher.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 10 options exchanges checks in at 0.70, with 3.1 million calls exchanged so far today, compared to 2.2 million puts.
- Among the equities with call-slanted activity is Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY - 13.97), which has gained about 14.7% today amid rumors that founder Richard Schulze plans to make a $5 billion to $6 billion bid for the company by week's end. Currently, calls account for 71.1% of the retailer's intraday option volume.
- The put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX - 29.86) sits at 0.93, with calls slightly outnumbering puts.
- The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shows an advance/decline ratio of 0.65, with the number of downward movers outpacing the advancers.
- Among the NYSE's major decliners is Lexmark International Inc (NYSE:LXK - 23.77), which has shed around 5% in intraday action. The tech issue was downgraded to "sell" from "hold" at Deutsche Bank ahead of this morning's opening bell.
- Optimism climbed higher during the week ended Dec. 12, according to the latest survey by the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII). The percentage of investors with a bullish view on stocks rose to 43.2% from 42.2%, while the percentage bearish dropped to 30.1% from 34.6%. Meanwhile, the percentage neutral increased to 26.7% from 23.2%.