Dow Jones Industrial Average, Oil Pare Losses

Tapping the Brakes on Tesla Ahead of Earnings

by Kirra Fedyszyn

Published on Feb 9, 2016 at 12:15 PM

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) got off to a rough start, as stocks and oil futures reacted to an ugly demand forecast from the International Energy Agency (IEA). However, both crude and equities are attempting to pare their losses -- and even peeked above breakeven -- with March-dated oil trimming its deficit to 0.6% to sit at $29.50 per barrel. Elsewhere, traders are digesting a steep sell-off in Japan, the second-highest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) ever, and an upbeat economic forecast from the White House -- all ahead of Fed Chair Janet Yellen's highly anticipated appearance on Capitol Hill tomorrow.

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Among options with unusual option volume at midday is Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc NYSE:VRX), last seen trading 2.7% lower at $87.11. VRX calls are trading hands at twice their average intraday pace today, with at least 13,000 contracts traded so far. But bullish betting is nothing new for the stock, which has a 50-day call/put volume ratio of 1.84 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) -- in the 95th percentile of its annual range. In fact, traders may have good reason to be bullish -- after falling hard through much of late 2015, the share have outperformed the S&P 500 Index (SPX) by more than 27 percentage points over the last three months. 

BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:BCRX) is among top performers on the Nasdaq today, up 11.8% at $1.99, as the stock pares some of yesterday's steep, drug-data-fueled losses. BCRX received at least two downgrades and four price-target cuts from analysts, including a drop to $2 from $14 at Jefferies.

Meanhile, Viacom, Inc. (NASDAQ:VIAB) is one of the bottom stocks on the Nasdaq, off 13.6% at $36.15, and just off a four-year low of $35.27, after reporting fiscal first-quarter revenue that fell short of estimates. The stock, which has found a spot on the short-sale restricted list, was just in the black for 2016 going into this morning's report, but is now down 13.6%.

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The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is up 0.9 points, or 3.4%, at 26.88.

Today's put/call volume ratio on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) is 1.4, with puts outnumbering calls. SPY was last seen down 0.5 points, or 0.3%, at $184.88.

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