Stocks quoted in this article:
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 13,137.53) is down 174 points, or 1.3%, as a setback in fiscal-cliff negotiations has reignited anxieties throughout Wall Street. On the economic front, the Commerce Department said consumer spending climbed by 0.4% in November, besting consensus estimates for a rise of just 0.3%. Meanwhile, personal incomes spiked by a better-than-anticipated 0.6% last month, marking its largest increase in nine months. Also of note, November durable goods orders surged by 0.7%, topping economists' expectations for a 0.1% drop. Contrasting this bevy of upbeat data was the final December reading of the Thomson-Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index, which tumbled to 72.9 from its initial reading of 74.5. This latest figure marked a five-month low and fell short of economists' projections for a final reading of 75.0. Elsewhere, the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 19.60) is 1.9 points, or 10.9%, higher.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 11 options exchanges sits at 1.03, with 4.6 million puts crossing the tape so far today, versus 4.5 million calls.
- Among the equities with call-slanted activity is KeyCorp (NYSE:KEY - 8.46), despite falling 1.2%. Currently, calls represent 67.2% of the banking concern's intraday option volume. On the other side of the trading aisle, Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS - 11.42) is down almost 3%, with puts making up 94.3% of the retailer's option activity.
- The put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX - 32.85) stands at 0.88, with calls outnumbering puts.
- The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shows an advance/decline ratio of 0.27, with the number of downward movers more than tripling the advancers.
- Among the NYSE's major decliners is Walgreen Company (NYSE:WAG - 36.27), which has declined about 3.4% in intraday action, after reporting weaker-than-expected fiscal first-quarter earnings ahead of the open.