Dow Jones Industrial Average Off Lows as Factory Data Offsets Dreary Black Friday Read

The National Retail Federation said Black Friday sales dropped 11% year-over-year

by Karee Venema

Published on Dec 1, 2014 at 11:54 AM
Updated on Apr 20, 2015 at 5:32 PM

After being down more than 100 points in the wake of an uninspiring reading on Black Friday sales, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:DJI) has since pared these losses to a more modest 40 points, or 0.2%. Helping the 30-stock index ease off its session lows was a stronger-than-forecast report on factory activity from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), which followed a round of lackluster manufacturing reports from overseas. Elsewhere on the Street, crude oil is staging a rebound, after suffering steep losses on Friday. At last check, crude for January delivery was up 39 cents, or 0.6%, to trade at $66.54 per barrel.

Continue reading for more on today's market -- and don't miss:

Midday Market Stats

Among the stocks with notable put volume is Beijing-based Internet issue 21Vianet Group Inc (NASDAQ:VNET), despite being up 4.9% trade at $19.75, after saying a trio of well-known companies bought a stake in the company. By the numbers, roughly 5,100 puts have changed hands -- seven times the intraday average. The security's most active option is the March 16 put, where it seems a number of option traders are throwing in the towel on their bearish bets amid today's rise.

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

One of the major Nasdaq decliners is drugmaker POZEN Inc. (NASDAQ:POZN), which has tumbled 15.6% to $7.50 -- and found a place on the short-sale restricted (SSR) list -- after mutually agreeing to end its partnership with Sanofi SA (ADR) (NYSE:SNY). The equity has now moved back into the red on a year-to-date basis, which should come as music to the ears of one group of traders -- specifically, short sellers. At present, short interest accounts for a healthy 10.2% of the stock's available float, and it would take more than seven sessions to cover these bearish bets, at POZN's average daily pace of trading.

Over on the Big Board, oil-and-gas issue Emerge Energy Services LP (NYSE:EMES) is one of the day's biggest laggards, off 18% to churn near $52.60 amid a sector-wide sell-off -- and not surprisingly, is on the SSR list. Today's negative price action just highlights the equity's longer-term struggles, with EMES down 64% from its Aug. 29 record high of $145.71. Option traders have kept the faith, though, and at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), 2.90 calls have been bought to open for every put over the past 10 sessions. Echoing this call-skewed bias is EMES' Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.62, which rests lower than 93% of similar readings taken in the past year. Simply stated, short-term speculators have rarely been more call-heavy toward the stock.

Daily Chart of EMES Since August 2014

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is up 1.1 points, or 8%, to 14.40 -- putting the market's "fear gauge" on pace for its loftiest daily close since Nov. 4.

Today's put/call volume ratio on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) is 1.88, with puts easily outpacing calls. SPY is down 1.3 points, or 0.7%, at $205.82.


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