Dow Jones Industrial Average Tags Record High Before Pulling Back

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:DJI) is cautiously lower at midday

Nov 3, 2014 at 11:58 AM
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:DJI) extended its quest for all-time highs out of the gate, but has since pulled back to trade cautiously lower, down 26 points, or 0.2%. The S&P 500 Index (SPX) followed suit, peaking at 2,021.49, but has pared most of its gains to stick close to breakeven, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite (COMP) is enjoying a modest 18-point, or 0.4%, lead to explore 14-year highs. Wall Street is weighing a mixed bag of economic data, both at home and abroad: on one hand, the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) manufacturing index increased by more than expected last month; on the other hand, construction spending slipped last month, and potential first-time home buyers are sitting on the sidelines, according to the National Association of Realtors, accounting for just one-third of homes sold year-to-date -- a 27-year low.

Continue reading for more on today's market, including:

  • The pair of stocks headlining Merger Monday
  • The Chinese Internet issue assailing new heights ahead of earnings
  • Plus ... Checking in on the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY), and other noteworthy stats at midday.

Midday Market Stats

Among the stocks with notable call volume is audio accessories provider Zagg Inc (NASDAQ:ZAGG), as traders place new bullish bets ahead of the firm's turn in the earnings confessional tomorrow morning. Intraday call volume is running at 14 times the norm, with traders initiating new positions at the November 7 call. ZAGG was last seen 3.7% higher at $6.97, and earlier notched a new annual high of $6.99.

For more midday statistics and stocks on the move, head to page 2.

The top gainers on the Big Board and Nasdaq, respectively, today are drugmaker Covance Inc. (NYSE:CVD) and tech concern Sapient Corporation (NASDAQ:SAPE), which are headlining Merger Monday. CVD is up 25.4% to trade north of $100, after Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings (NYSE:LH) offered to buy the firm (subscription required) for about $6.1 billion in cash and stock. Meanwhile, SAPE is up 42%, and peaked at $24.73, after a bid from France's Publicis Group SA.

Among the NYSE-listed stocks notching new highs is Chinese Internet issue Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA). The stock was last seen 3.2% higher at $101.75, and touched a record high of $102.80 just moments ago. Speculators are jumping in ahead of Alibaba's inaugural turn in the earnings spotlight tomorrow morning, as traders have picked up 3.63 BABA calls for every put during the past two weeks on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). Furthermore, analysts are upbeat, as BABA boasts 18 "strong buys" and two "buys," with not a single "hold" or "sell" suggestions.

Daily Chart of BABA since Sept 19, 2014

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) has stair-stepped higher out of the gate, and was last seen 0.8 point, or 5.4%, higher at 14.78.

Today's put/call volume ratio on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) is 1.19. SPY is fractionally higher at 201.80, and -- like its SPX comrade -- touched a new record high, topping out at 202.21.


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