Stocks quoted in this article:
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 13,007.57) is down 107 points, or 0.8%, as fiscal-cliff concerns continue to plague Wall Street. Also weighing on investors is the Conference Board's consumer confidence index, which declined to 65.1 in December from 71.5 in November. This latest reading disappointed economists, who had projected a drop to just 70.0. However, not all of the data on today's economic docket was downbeat. The Labor Department reported that weekly jobless claims fell by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 350,000 last week, although portions of the results were based on estimates due to the Christmas holiday. Economists, on average, had forecast a climb to 365,000. Also of note, new home sales rose by 4.4% last month to a seasonally adjusted 377,000 -- notching their highest level in over two years, and besting consensus estimates for a rise of 1.9%. Elsewhere, the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 20.36) is 0.9 point, or 4.5%, higher.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 11 options exchanges sits at 1.00, with both calls and puts seeing 2.9 million contracts trade so far today.
- Among the equities with call-heavy activity is Forest Oil Corporation (NYSE:FST - 6.50), which is seeing this bullish speculation despite a drop of 2.7% today. Currently, calls account for 91.3% of the security's intraday option volume. On the other side of the trading aisle is Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ:MRVL - 7.14), with puts making up 57.4% of the stock's options activity. At last check, MRVL is off around 2.5% -- tagging a new multi-year low of $6.98 -- after a jury ruled against the company in a patent infringement lawsuit. The news also triggered some bearish analyst attention this morning.
- The put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX – 35.00) stands at 0.81, with calls outnumbering puts.
- The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shows an advance/decline ratio of 0.36, with the number of downward movers almost tripling the advancers.
- Among the NYSE's major decliners is J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP - 19.67), which has surrendered 5.2% in intraday action. The beleaguered department store showed the biggest decline in customer satisfaction among major online retailers during the holiday shopping season, according to ForeSee's Holiday E-Retail Satisfaction Index.
- Optimism declined during the week ended Dec. 26, according to the latest survey by the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII). The percentage of investors with a bullish view on stocks fell to 44.4% from 46.4%, while the percentage bearish rose to 30.2% from 24.8%. Meanwhile, the percentage neutral dropped to 25.4% from 28.8%.