ADP Data Spooks the Street; Dow Jones Industrial Average Off Triple Digits

Private-sector employment rose by less than expected last month

by Karee Venema

Published on Mar 4, 2015 at 11:50 AM
Updated on Apr 20, 2015 at 5:32 PM

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:DJI) is continuing to retreat from record-high territory, as traders take profits off the table ahead of this Friday's nonfarm payrolls report. Wall Street got a glimpse of the employment backdrop earlier, when ADP reported the private sector added a less-than-expected 212,000 positions in February. In fact, not even a stronger-than-forecast reading on service sector growth and relatively dovish statements from Chicago Fed President Charles Evans -- who called for the central bank to withhold raising interest rates until 2016 -- are able to overshadow today's disappointing jobs data. Elsewhere, the dollar jumped to an 11-year high, while crude retreated back below the round-number $50 mark on reports of a larger-than-anticipated rise in weekly inventories.

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

Midday Market Stats

Among the stocks with notable put volume is Kroger Co (NYSE:KR), with the contracts trading at seven times what's typically seen at this point in the day. The grocery chain is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings tomorrow morning, and ahead of the event, one option trader is rolling down her bearish bet. On the charts, KR is down 0.5% at $69.62 in intraday action, but still remains 60.5% higher year-over-year.

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

Bob Evans Farms Inc (NASDAQ:BOBE) is one of the leading laggards on the Nasdaq, after the restaurant chain's dismal earnings report and forecast was met with a round of bearish brokerage attention. At last check, BOBE was off 22.7% at $46.09 -- and back into the red on a year-to-date basis.

Daily Chart of BOBE Since January 2015

Helping to lead the path lower on the Big Board is teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE:ANF), following a dreary fourth-quarter miss. At midday, shares of ANF are down 13.8% at $20.65 -- bringing their year-to-date deficit to 28% -- after earlier bottoming out at a nearly six-year low of $20.37.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is up 0.4 point, or 3%, at 14.28, after earlier making a move north of its 200-day moving average. The market's "fear gauge" hasn't closed north of this trendline since Feb. 19.

Today's put/call volume ratio on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) is 1.29, with puts having the edge over calls. SPY was last seen 1 point, or 0.5%, lower at $210.13.

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