Sagging Crude Drops Dow Jones Industrial Average to Triple-Digit Loss

U.S. manufacturing output in November was better than expected

Dec 15, 2014 at 12:03 PM
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Despite rallying nearly 123 points out of the gate on a surprisingly robust surge in industrial production last month, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:DJI) is now sitting below breakeven -- and down triple digits -- as the price of crude oil continues to decline. At last check, the blue-chip index had shed 159.5 points, or 0.9%. Elsewhere on the economic front, the Empire State manufacturing index posted its first negative reading since January 2013, disappointing analysts, and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported an unanticipated decline in December sentiment. Taking stock of the other major indexes, the S&P 500 Index (SPX) is off 1%, while the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) is down 1.3% to lead its peers.

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

  • This prominent U.S. automaker is getting hammered, following some negative attention on the Street.
  • A look at how these traders reacted to VIVUS, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:VVUS) multi-year low on Friday.
  • 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 payment solutions provider VeriFone Systems Inc (NYSE:PAY), where the contracts are running at 32 times the expected intraday rate. Meanwhile, the stock has added 0.2% to hover around $33.08, ahead of tonight's fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report, and year-to-date, the equity is up 23.4%. Nevertheless, options traders are selling to open the January 2015 36-strike call, looking to take advantage of inflated pre-earnings volatility levels. Tonight, the Street is calling for a per-share profit of 41 cents from PAY.

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

Biopharmaceutical issue Opko Health Inc. (NYSE:OPK) is one of the biggest advancers on the Big Board, tacking on 10% to trade at $9 after licensing its growth hormone therapy to Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) for an initial sum of $295 million. This bullish gap has brought OPK into positive year-to-date territory. Additional upside could be fueled by short-covering activity. One-fifth of the stock's float is dedicated to short interest, which would take about six weeks to cover, at OPK's average daily trading volume.

Meanwhile, integrated circuit developer Cirrus Logic, Inc. (NASDAQ:CRUS) is among the Nasdaq's biggest overachievers, rallying more than 20% to trade at $22.66 on a positive analyst note. Now, the shares are up more than 10% year-to-date, likely to the delight of options traders. CRUS' 50-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) call/put volume ratio of 3.66 ranks in the 82nd annual percentile.

Daily Chart of CRUS Since January 2014

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is up 3.7 points, or 17.4%, at 24.75 -- putting it on pace for its highest finish since Oct. 16.

Today's put/call volume ratio on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) is 1.29, with puts outstripping calls. At last check, SPY is down 1.9 points, or 0.9%, at $199.04.

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