Dow Jones Industrial Average Slips, COMP Backs Down from 5K

Mixed economic data and Fed speeches are in the spotlight

Feb 27, 2015 at 12:16 PM
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Stocks are modestly lower at midday, even with the latest gross domestic product (GDP) estimate and pending home sales data beating expectations. Elsewhere on the economic front, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index declined from an 11-year peak, and the Chicago purchasing managers index (PMI) fell to a five-year low. Investors now shift their focus to a flood of speeches from central bankers, including Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer, New York Fed President William Dudley, and Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester. At last check, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:DJI) was in the red -- but on pace for a 6% monthly gain -- while the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) has backed down from the closely watched 5,000 level, but not before inking another 14-year high.

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

Midday Market Stats

Among the stocks with notable put volume is retailer J C Penney Company Inc (NYSE:JCP), as traders react to the company's disappointing fourth-quarter earnings numbers. The equity has been placed on the short-sale restricted (SSR) list, causing put volume to jump to eight times the typical intraday pace, as traders look to for alternative ways to place bearish bets. JCP was last seen 4.8% lower at $8.68.

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

Drink producer Monster Beverage Corp (NASDAQ:MNST) is one of the biggest movers on the Nasdaq today, up 13.4% to $141.86 -- and earlier touched an all-time high of $143.90 -- after a fourth-quarter earnings beat, and hopes for "an outright acquisition" by The Coca-Cola Co (NYSE:KO). The surging stock has added roughly 90% year-over-year. Also, just this morning, no fewer than four brokerage firms raised their price targets on the security.

Weight management services provider Weight Watchers International, Inc. (NYSE:WTW) stands as one of the biggest Big Board losers today, off a whopping 34% at $11.60 -- and earlier touched a record low of $10.90 -- after forecasting 2015 figures below analysts' expectations. The equity has now lost more than half its value in 2015, and has been relegated to the SSR list. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 4.00 is higher than 79% of all readings from the past year.

Daily Chart of WTW since December 2014

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is down 0.4 point, or 2.7%, at 13.54. The "fear gauge" is on pace for a monthly loss of almost 30%.

Today's put/call volume ratio on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) is 1.80, with puts easily outpacing calls. SPY has barely budged today, last seen 0.01 point, or 0.01%, higher at $211.39.

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