Stocks quoted in this article:
A year-over-year rise in the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index doesn't seem to be enough to lift stocks out of the red this afternoon, as Wall Street has the looming fiscal cliff on the brain. Despite today's pullback, the number of equities at new highs is outpacing those at new lows. At last look, there are 48 peaks and 17 bottoms on the NYSE, while the Nasdaq has seen 22 tops and 12 lows. Among the names charting notable moves are General Motors Company (NYSE:GM - 27.72), Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON - 93.99), and Kohl's Corporation (NYSE:KSS - 42.50).
- GM kicked into high gear this morning, racing to the $27.95 level -- its best price since August 2011. Today's action boosts the automaker's impressive technical run, as the shares have gained more than 36% year-to-date, and have outperformed the S&P 500 Index (SPX) by 21 percentage points over the past 60 sessions. Looking at the sentiment backdrop, we see that calls have been the options of choice recently, as evidenced by the 10-day call/put volume ratio of 2.23 on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). However, short sellers could be accountable for some of the call buying of late, picking up optimistic options to hedge their pessimistic positions. Despite a slight dip in overall short interest during the most recent reporting period, it still accounts for a healthy 7.9% of the equity's available float.
- Agricultural science giant MON is looking to wrap up the year with a strong performance on the charts. The stock has notched a 33.5% return since January, and today's four-year peak of $94.43 might not be its last technical feat of 2012. The brokerage bunch is mostly upbeat toward MON, as 11 out of 17 analysts maintain "strong buy" endorsements. Elsewhere on the Street, though, pessimism is near annual-high levels among short-term options traders, as the equity's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) arrives at 1.05. This ratio ranks in the 92nd percentile of its annual range, suggesting that near-term options players have seldom been more put-heavy during the past year.
- Perhaps taking a hit on lackluster holiday retail sales results, KSS backpedaled to a 15-month worst of $42.36 today. Reeling some 2.2%, the family-focused department store is now off more than 13.9% for the year. Plus, the shares have lagged the SPX by 16.7 percentage points during the past month. There could be a deeper downtrend in store, especially if KSS fails to meet analysts' expectations. Currently, there are nine "strong buys," eight middling "holds," and zero "sell" suggestions. Meanwhile, the average 12-month price target sits at $55.39, which is a 30.7% premium to KSS' new nadir.