Schaeffer's Trading Floor Blog
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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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shows an advance/decline ratio of 0.65, with the number of downward movers outpacing the advancers.

  5. 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.

  6. 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%.
Unusual Option Volume at Midday

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