Stocks quoted in this article:
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 14,003.40) is down 32 points, or 0.2%, as investors mull over the latest round of economic reports. The Commerce Department said housing starts fell 8.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 890,000 in January. Economists, on average, had expected a drop of just 3.1%. Conversely, building permits rose 1.8% to an annual rate of 925,000 -- notching their highest level since mid-2008, and besting economists' projections for a rate of 920,000. Meanwhile, the Labor Department's producer price index climbed 0.2% in January, marking its first increase since September. Nevertheless, last month's reading fell short of economists' forecast for a rise of 0.5%. Also of note, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is due to release its January meeting minutes at 2:00 p.m. ET. Elsewhere, the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 13.22) is 0.9 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 1.02, with 3.4 million puts crossing the tape so far today, versus 3.3 million calls.
- Among the equities with put-skewed activity is Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ:GRMN - 35.13), which has shed about 10.5% -- and tagged a new multi-year low of $34.65 -- during the course of the session. The navigation device manufacturer reported weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and projected lackluster full-year figures ahead of the open. Currently, puts account for 69.6% 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 - 21.71) sits at 0.56, with calls almost doubling puts.
- The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shows an advance/decline ratio of 0.56, with the number downward movers outpacing the advancers by a margin of nearly 2-to-1.
- Among the NYSE's major decliners is Harvest Natural Resources, Inc. (NYSE:HNR - 5.78), which has plummeted almost 37% in intraday action amid reports that the company's deal to sell its Venezuela interests to Indonesia-based PT Pertamina fell through. The news also sparked a downgrade to "neutral" from "buy" at Global Hunter Securities.