Oil Slaps Dow Jones Industrial Average; Dollar Hits Gold

The Big Win Boosting This Biotech

by Karee Venema

Published on Mar 23, 2016 at 12:08 PM
Updated on Mar 23, 2016 at 12:12 PM

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is feeling the heat from falling oil prices -- and poorly received earnings from Dow component Nike Inc (NYSE:NKE) -- as energy stocks lead today's low-volume decline. Specifically, May-dated crude futures have plunged 2.6% to $40.39 per barrel, after reports showed weekly crude stockpiles rose much more than expected last week. Elsewhere, April-dated gold futures are giving back a portion of Tuesday's Brussels-related gains -- down 2.3% at $1,220 per ounce -- as the dollar gains ground following supportive interest-rate comments from Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, a growing theme among Fed officials.

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Among today's stocks with unusual put volume is Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (NYSE:RCL), with the contracts crossing at 15 times the average intraday clip. While many travel stocks are bouncing following Tuesday's setback, shares of the cruise operator are down 2.3% at $74.26. It looks as if one options trader is taking a cautious approach to her bearish outlook, initiating a long put spread with RCL's April 67.50 and 72.50 strikes. At the same time, a similar spread traded at Carnival Corp's (NYSE:CCL) April 40 and 45 puts.

Stone Energy Corporation (NYSE:SGY) is one of the leading laggards on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) today, down 14.8% at $1.19, and fresh off a record low of $1.12. It's been a rough ride for the oil-and-gas stock -- exacerbated recently by the firm's fiscal woes -- which has shed 72% year-to-date.

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Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) is one of the biggest gainers on the NYSE, up 6.5% at $33.96. VRX's laundry list of troubles have been fodder for the Street, but today's surge has the drugmaker on track for a third straight day of gains.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is up 0.6 point, or 4.3%, at 14.78.

Today's put/call volume ratio on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) is 1.55, with puts outpacing calls. SPY is down 0.5% at $203.57.

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