Stocks quoted in this article:
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 13,314.96) is up 80 points, or 0.6%, amid speculation that Democrats and Republicans are getting closer to hammering out a budget deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. Meanwhile, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that its housing-market index climbed to 47 in December -- notching an eighth consecutive monthly increase, as well as its strongest reading in over six years. Elsewhere, the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 15.67) is 0.7 point, or 4.1%, lower.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 10 options exchanges sits at 0.72, with 4.9 million calls changing hands so far today, versus 3.5 million puts.
- Among the equities with heavy call activity is Hertz Global Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:HTZ - 16.46), which has tacked on about 1.7% today. Currently, calls account for 81.3% of the car rental company's intraday option volume.
- The put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX - 28.26) -- which tagged a new all-time low of $28.10 earlier in the session -- stands at 1.21, with puts outstripping calls.
- The Nasdaq shows an advance/decline ratio of 2.01, with the number of upward movers more than doubling the decliners.
- Among the Nasdaq's major advancers is Steel Dynamics, Inc. (NASDAQ:STLD - 14.27), which has gained around 4% in intraday trading after issuing a fourth-quarter earnings outlook that bested analysts' projections.