GDP Helps Dow Jones Industrial Average Hurdle 18,000

Third-quarter GDP accelerated to its fastest pace in 11 years

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Dec 23, 2014 at 11:54 AM
Updated on Apr 20, 2015 at 5:32 PM

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:DJI) and S&P 500 Index (SPX) powered to new all-time highs earlier, with a big assist from the latest gross domestic product (GDP) reading. Specifically, the U.S. economy expanded by 5% in the third quarter -- its fastest pace in 11 years. Elsewhere on the data front, personal spending and consumer sentiment came in just above estimates, while durable goods orders unexpectedly fell. For the first time ever, the DJI is trading above the 18,000 millennium level, which acted as resistance earlier this month. At last check, the Dow is up roughly 80 points at 18,039.01, after earlier peaking at an all-time best of 18,051.14.

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

Midday Market Stats

Among the stocks with notable put volume is video game maker Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA), where the contracts are crossing at 14 times the usual intraday rate. Most active is the January 2016 45-strike put, with a block of 5,000 contracts sold to open this morning in the expectation of long-term technical support at $45. On the charts, EA is up 0.2% at $47.95, and has more than doubled in value on a year-to-date basis.

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

Oil-and-gas producer Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) is experiencing a rare surge on the charts -- up 6.2% to trade at $19.56 -- on news of a $1 billion stock repurchase program and the closed sale of certain natural gas assets to Southwestern Energy Company (NYSE:SWN). Longer term, though, the stock is staring at a year-to-date deficit of roughly 24% -- including yesterday's 7.3% sell-off.

Drugmaker Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:VNDA) has surged more than 22% to hover near $14.57, after settling a license dispute with Novartis AG (ADR) (NYSE:NVS). The intraday rally has brought VNDA -- which hasn't closed above $14.50 since late July -- back into the black on a year-to-date basis.

Daily Chart of VNDA Since July 2014

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is down 0.5 point, or 3%, at 14.79, and on pace to close below its 50-day moving average for the second straight session.

Today's put/call volume ratio on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) is 2.13, with puts more than doubling calls. At last check, SPY is up 0.2 point, or 0.4%, at $207.89.

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