Dow Jones Industrial Average Pares Oil-Induced Losses

Has the "Runaway VIX" Finally Peaked?

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Feb 1, 2016 at 12:11 PM

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) ​was off by nearly 167 points earlier as oil prices plunged, but has cut those losses considerably at midday. At last check, though, the commodity is still struggling in the wake of downbeat Chinese data, with March-dated crude futures falling 5.1% to $31.91 per barrel. Meanwhile, traders are also digesting a less-than-impressive round of economic reports -- including an ISM manufacturing index that showed the U.S. factory sector contracted for a fourth consecutive month -- while gearing up for a speech on monetary policy from Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer at 1 p.m. ET.

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Among the stocks with unusual put activity is industrial conglomerate General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), with the contracts crossing at quadruple the usual intraday rate. The volume is being powered by a pair of major put purchases, totaling 50,000 contracts. At last check, GE is off 1.3% at $28.73.

One of the worst performers on the Big Board is Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK), down over 12% at $6.33. The telecom stock is getting hammered by an unfavorable patent settlement with Samsung, which prompted Canaccord Genuity to cut its rating to "hold" from "buy," and its price target to $6.50 from $10.

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On the other hand, the biggest percentage advancer on the New York Stock Exchange is diagnostics expert Alere Inc (NYSE:ALR), surging 45.2% to $54. Propelling the shares higher is news that Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) agreed to buy the company for $5.8 billion to expand into new markets.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) has gained 0.5 point, or 2.4%, at 20.68.

Today's put/call volume ratio on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) is 2.04, with puts roughly doubling calls. At last check, SPY is down 0.6 point, or 0.3%, at $193.08.

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