Stocks quoted in this article:
Ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) release of its December meeting minutes later this afternoon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 13,408.69) is off 4 points, or 0.03%, as Wall Street take a bit of a breather from yesterday's triple-digit rally. On the economic front, the U.S. added 215,000 private-sector jobs last month, according to a national employment report released by Automatic Data Processing Inc. (ADP). Economists, on average, had predicted a gain of just 150,000 jobs. However, the Labor Department said initial jobless claims increased by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 372,000 last week, disappointing economists who had expected a slight rise to just 363,000. Elsewhere, the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 14.40) is 0.3 point, or 1.9%, lower.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 11 options exchanges sits at 0.68, with 3.8 million calls exchanged so far today, compared to 2.6 million puts.
- Among the equities with heavy call activity is Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd (ADR) (NASDAQ:MPEL - 17.78), which has climbed around 2.4% -- and tagged a new multi-year high of $17.84 -- after being upgraded to "conviction buy" from "buy" at Goldman Sachs ahead of the open. Currently, calls represent 99.1% of the casino operator's intraday option volume.
- The put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX – 27.77) -- which sank to a new record low of 27.65 earlier in the session -- stands at 1.01, with calls nearly equaling puts.
- The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shows an advance/decline ratio of 1.81, with the number of upward movers almost doubling the decliners.
- Among the NYSE's major advancers is The TJX Companies, Inc. (NYSE:TJX - 44.69), which has gained about 3.5% in intraday action after reporting a 10% increase in December sales, as well as a 6% increase in same-store sales. The retailer also upwardly revised its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings guidance.
- Optimism decreased during the week ended Jan. 2, 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 38.7% from 44.4%, while the percentage bearish rose to 36.2% from 30.2%. Meanwhile, the percentage neutral dipped to 25.1% from 25.4%.