Dow Jones Industrial Average Wobbles Ahead of Fed

The Upbeat iPhone Outlook Boosting Apple

by Josh Selway

Published on Mar 15, 2016 at 12:10 PM

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is testing a newfound foothold atop its 200-day moving average, as caution sets in ahead of tomorrow's policy announcement from the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) and subsequent press conference from Fed Chair Janet Yellen. Additionally, stocks are reacting to sliding oil prices, with the April-dated crude contract last seen down 2.6% at $36.20 per barrel.

Elsewhere, Wall Street is digesting a mixed  batch of economic data, with retail sales falling for a second straight month, after January's numbers were revised to reflect a drop. Additionally, the producer price index (PPI) declined for the fifth time in seven months in February. However, the NAHB housing market index held steady, the Empire State manufacturing index swung to its first positive reading since July, and business inventories edged up. 

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

160315MMC

Among today's stocks with unusual options volume is drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX), which has shed an astonishing 45.2% to trade at $37.85, and earlier hit a four-year low of $37.24, after the company's much-anticipated fourth-quarter earnings release. VRX put volume is on pace to hit an annual high, trading at 10 times the normal intraday pace. The most popular option is the March 40 put, with traders betting on the shares extending losses below $40 through Friday's close, when the contracts expire.

One of the top performers on the Nasdaq is Outerwall Inc (NASDAQ:OUTR), which is up 6% at $36.45. The stock is reacting to the news that the company is seeking strategic alternatives and boosted its dividend, as well as a bullish brokerage note. However, the shares have a long way to go to fill in their bear gap from December. 

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Over on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), one of the biggest losers is 3-D printing concern 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD). The stock is down 12.6% at $12.63, after J.P. Morgan Securities downgraded the shares. This price action -- and negative analyst attention -- comes just a day after DDD posted a huge post-earnings gain

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is up 0.2 point, or 1.4%. 

Today's put/call volume ratio on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) is 1.46, with puts outpacing calls. The SPY is down 1.1 points, or 0.5%, at $201.40.

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