Schaeffer's Trading Floor Blog
Stocks quoted in this article:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 13,861.71) is down 125 points, or 0.9%, as investors mull over today's bevy of economic reports. The Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 366,000 last week, disappointing economists who were expecting a drop to 360,000. In a separate preliminary report, the Labor Department revealed that nonfarm productivity for the fourth quarter fell 2%, while unit labor costs climbed by 4.5%. Economists, on average, had forecast a productivity decline of 1.6%, and a labor cost increase of 3.2%. Meanwhile, data released by Thomson Reuters showed that January same-store sales rose by 5.8% among the 18 retailers tracked, with Macy's, Inc. (NYSE:M) and Kohl's Corporation (NYSE:KSS) noting the most significant growth. Elsewhere, the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 14.40) is 1 point, or 7.4%, higher.

Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:

  1. The equity put/call volume ratio across all 11 options exchanges stands at 0.96, with 3.5 million calls changing hands so far today, compared to 3.4 million puts.

  2. Among the equities with call-skewed activity is The Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS - 31.78), which has shed more than 4% during the course of the session, despite reporting an 8% spike in January same-store sales. The popular clothing retailer also issued stronger-than-anticipated quarterly guidance. Currently, calls make up 77.8% of the security's intraday option volume.

  3. The put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX - 24.14) checks in at 1.19, with puts outnumbering calls.

  4. The Nasdaq shows an advance/decline ratio of 0.37, with the number of downward movers more than doubling the advancers.

  5. Among the Nasdaq's major decliners is Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKAM - 35.24), which has dropped more than 15% in intraday trading, after the company warned of weaker-than-expected fiscal first-quarter revenue. The downbeat outlook prompted analysts at Jefferies to downgrade the stock to "hold" from "buy," and cut their price target to $40 from $44. Meanwhile, Macquarie handed out its own downward price-target adjustment.

  6. Bullish sentiment increased last week, according to the latest Investors Intelligence survey. The percentage of financial advisors with a bullish view on stocks rose to 54.7% from 54.3%, while the percentage bearish dropped to 21.1% from 22.3%. Meanwhile, the percentage of advisors expecting a market correction climbed to 24.2% from 23.4%.
Unusual Option Volume at Midday


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