Stocks quoted in this article:
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 13,995.69) is up 135 points, or 1% -- and managed to claim a more than five-year high earlier in the session -- thanks to a bevy of upbeat economic data. Specifically, the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) manufacturing index spiked to 53.1 last month, surpassing economists' expectations for a rise to just 51.0. Meanwhile, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final consumer sentiment reading for January climbed to 73.8. Economists, on average, had projected a slight increase to 71.5. Also of note, construction spending swelled by 0.9% to a seasonally adjusted yearly rate of $884.98 billion in December, according to the Commerce Department -- marking its highest level since August 2009, and topping Wall Street's forecast for an uptick of just 0.6%. Last but not least, the Labor Department said employers created a lower-than-forecast 157,000 jobs in January, while the unemployment rate unexpectedly edged one-tenth of a percentage point higher to 7.9%. However, the blow is being cushioned by upwardly revised readings for the final two months of 2012. Elsewhere, the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 12.76) is 1.5 points, or 10.6%, lower.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 11 options exchanges sits at 0.77, with 4.3 million calls crossing the tape so far today, compared to 3.4 million puts.
- Among the equities with call-heavy activity is The Allstate Corporation (NYSE:ALL - 44.79), which has tacked on about 2% -- and touched a new multi-year high of $44.99 -- despite a lack of notable news drivers. Currently, calls represent 96.8% of the insurance firm's intraday option volume.
- The put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX - 23.07) stands at 0.87, with calls outnumbering puts.
- The Nasdaq shows an advance/decline ratio of 2.48, with the number of upward movers more than doubling the decliners.
- Among the Nasdaq's major advancers is Ctrip.com International, Ltd. (ADR) (NASDAQ:CTRP - 20.90), which has gained about 5.5% in intraday trading after reporting stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings post-close yesterday. The well-received results also sparked some bullish analyst attention this morning, as Brean Capital upgraded the stock to "buy" from "hold," while Raymond James lifted its price target to $28 from $26.
- Optimism declined during the week ended Jan. 30, 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 48.0% from 52.3%, while the percentage bearish remained unchanged at 24.3%. Meanwhile, the percentage neutral rose to 27.7% from 23.4%.