Schaeffer's Trading Floor Blog
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 13,993.52) is up 49 points, or 0.4%, thanks to some positive economic data out of China and here at home. On the domestic front, the Commerce Department said the trade deficit contracted in December to its narrowest margin in almost three years. Specifically, the trade gap shrank to $38.5 billion, trumping economists' forecast for a deficit of $46 billion. At the other end of the spectrum, however, a separate report revealed that wholesale inventories fell 0.1% to $497.65 billion in December. Economists, on average, had expected a rise of 0.4%. Elsewhere, the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 12.94) is 0.6 point, or 4.2%, lower.

Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:

  1. The equity put/call volume ratio across all 11 options exchanges sits at 0.75, with 3.7 million calls exchanged so far today, versus 2.7 million puts.

  2. Among the equities with heavy call activity is Boyd Gaming Corporation (NYSE:BYD - 7.85), which has spiked roughly 11% during the course of the session. The casino operator received a halo lift amid hopes that online gambling will be legalized in New Jersey within the next few months -- a move that would benefit Internet gaming behemoth, a European partner of BYD. Currently, calls account for 93.5% of the gambling issue's intraday option volume.

  3. The put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX - 23.00) stands at 1.15, with puts outstripping calls.

  4. The Nasdaq shows an advance/decline ratio of 1.81, with the number of upward movers almost doubling the decliners.

  5. Among the Nasdaq's major advancers is Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI - 13.40), which has soared more than 11% -- and tagged a new multi-year high of $13.94 -- in intraday action, after besting analysts' fourth-quarter earnings projections post-close yesterday. The upbeat results also triggered upgrades from Macquarie and Sterne Agee ahead of the opening bell.

  6. Optimism waned during the week ended Feb. 6, 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 42.8% from 48.0%, while the percentage bearish rose to 29.5% from 24.3%. Meanwhile, the percentage neutral remained flat at 27.7%.
Unusual Option Volume at Midday

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