With All Eyes on Yellen, Dow Jones Industrial Average, Nasdaq Edge Higher

Crude oil is on pace for a sixth straight loss after inventories data

by Andrea Kramer

Published on Feb 25, 2015 at 11:48 AM
Updated on Apr 20, 2015 at 5:32 PM

The major market indexes are flirting with breakeven at midday, with Wall Street once again honed in on Capitol Hill, where Fed Chair Janet Yellen is concluding her two-day stint. After wrapping up a fairly dovish session before the Senate Banking Committee yesterday, the central banker is now addressing the House Financial Services Committee. Outside of Washington, D.C., traders are digesting a bigger-than-anticipated jump in domestic oil supplies, which has crude on pace for a sixth consecutive daily loss. Meanwhile, housing is in focus, amid reports of a slimmer-than-expected drop in single-family home sales last month, as well as an uptick in mortgage applications. At last check, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:DJI) is modestly higher, while the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) is notching new highs and aiming for an 11th consecutive win.

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

  • Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) takes a rare step back after a patent ruling, while Lowe's Companies, Inc. (NYSE:LOW) tries to follow in Home Depot Inc's (NYSE:HD) large footsteps.
  • How option traders are betting on J C Penney Company Inc (NYSE:JCP) and Gogo Inc (NASDAQ:GOGO) 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 energy focus First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR), with the contracts crossing at nine times the normal rate, and more than doubling puts. Today's surge in call volume can be attributed to a positive earnings report -- and, subsequently, more bullish analyst attention from Baird, RBC, Needham, and Cowen and Company, which all raised their price target on the shares. At last check, FSLR was up 5% at $57.42.

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

Infrastructure firm Chicago Bridge & Iron Company N.V. (NYSE:CBI) gapped higher this morning, following a fourth-quarter earnings beat, making it one of the biggest movers on the Big Board. The shares have added 12.9% to trade at $47.11. Many speculators are likely displeased with CBI's jump. Over the past 10 weeks at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock has amassed a put/call volume ratio of 1.82, higher than 94% of all similar readings from the past year.

Hourly Chart of CBI Since Monday

Natural gas issue Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) is one of the biggest losers on the NYSE today. The shares have dropped 11.6% to trade at $1.57 -- and have been relegated to the short-sale-restricted list -- due to a disappointing fourth-quarter earnings report. One group of traders is likely cheering the stock's drop: almost 72 million CHK shares are in the hands of short sellers, a figure that represents over a week's worth of trading, at normal daily volumes.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is down 0.6 point, or 4.2%, at 13.12. The "fear gauge" hasn't ended south of 13 since Dec. 5.

Today's put/call volume ratio on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) is 1.67, with puts outpacing calls. SPY is down 0.2 point, or 0.1%, at $211.63.


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