Dow Jones Industrial Average Loses Steam; Oil, Wal-Mart in the Crosshairs

The Never-Before-Seen Stats Alarming Apple

by Andrea Kramer

Published on Feb 18, 2016 at 12:07 PM

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) started the day higher, as the stock market applauded rising oil prices and relatively upbeat economic data. However, crude futures have lost some steam following an increase in domestic inventories and reports that Saudi Arabia won't cut production, with March oil last seen 0.3% higher at $30.76 per barrel. As such, the Dow has turned lower -- now on pace to snap a three-day winning streak -- with help from poorly received earnings from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT).

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Among stocks with unusual put volume at midday is oil-and-gas issue Devon Energy Corp (NYSE:DVN). The contracts are crossing at 11 times the average intraday pace, though most of the action is attributable to a block of March 17 puts that may have been sold to open. If so, the seller is expecting DVN to remain atop $17 through March options expiration. The shares of DVN are down for a third straight day, last seen 4.3% lower at $19.47, after the firm upped the size of its share offering -- and at a price that represents a discount to current trading levels -- and received price-target cuts from KLR Group (to $42) and J.P. Morgan Securities (to $25).

Drugmaker Aerie Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:AERI) is sitting atop the Nasdaq, after the company unveiled positive interim safety results from a late-stage trial on Rhopressa, its experimental eye drop. The shares have surged 25.4% to $18.60, though upside momentum stalled around AERI's 200-day moving average.


One of the Nasdaq's worst performers today is restaurateur Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ:JACK), after the firm reported weaker-than-expected earnings, citing increased breakfast competition from McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD). JACK was last seen 15.2% lower at $65.25, and just off an annual low of $62.20.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is down 0.5 point, or 2.2%, at 21.81. 

Today's put/call volume ratio on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) is 1.02, due to a relatively rare call bias. In fact, SPY calls are trading at 1.3 times the average intraday clip. The SPY was last seen 0.4 point, or 0.2%, lower at $192.49.

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