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