Schaeffer's Trading Floor Blog
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After touching a five-year high of 14,081.58, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 13,949.64) is down 51 points, or 0.4%, paring earlier gains triggered by exit poll results out of Italy that favored pro-reform Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani. Meanwhile, the Chicago Fed said its national activity index fell to negative 0.32 last month, disappointing economists who were expecting a reading of 0.02. Also of note, the Dallas Fed revealed that its manufacturing index arrived at 2.2 in February, down from a reading of 5.5 in January. Elsewhere, the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 15.13) is 1 point, or 6.8%, higher.

Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:

  1. The equity put/call volume ratio across all 11 options exchanges checks in at 1.01, with 3.63 million puts traded so far today, compared to 3.59 million calls.

  2. Among the equities with heavy put activity is Alexza Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ALXA - 4.43), which has shed almost 1% during the course of the session. Currently, puts account for 98.3% 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 - 22.75) is docked at 0.77, with calls outnumbering puts.

  4. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shows an advance/decline ratio of 0.65, with the number decliners outpacing the upward movers.

  5. Among the NYSE's major advancers is Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS - 14.69), which has jumped roughly 9% in intraday trading. The company's chairman, Leonard Riggio -- who is also its founder and biggest shareholder -- confirmed rumors that he is interested in buying out the firm's retail business. BKS said in a statement that a committee of directors will evaluate his proposal.
Unusual Option Volume at Midday

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