Hawkish Fed Sinks Dow Jones Industrial Average; Crude Crashes

Biotechs on the Move; Plus, a "Breakthrough Therapy"

May 19, 2016 at 12:13 PM
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) has given up triple digits -- and has erased its year-to-date gains -- as rate-hike worries continue to weigh on stocks. In fact, New York Fed President William Dudley echoed his sector peers that June will be a live meeting, saying "a tightening in the summer ... is a reasonable expectation." Meanwhile, Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker said that while Brexit uncertainty should not stop the central bank from raising interest rates, it could prompt a delay to July from June. Elsewhere, a stronger U.S. dollar is weighing on oil prices, with June-dated crude futures last seen 2.2% lower at $47.15 per barrel.

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Midday Market Stats May 19

Among the stocks with unusual options volume at midday is farm equipment producer Deere & Company (NYSE:DE), where contracts are trading at twice their typical intraday rate. The company is due to report quarterly earnings tomorrow morning, and it looks like a crowd of mostly bullish traders is eager to get in their last-minute bets. Calls are in the lead so far, with likely buy-to-open action happening at DE's weekly 6/10 86-strike call, as well as the May 81 call. DE is down 0.1% at $82.51.

Among the top performers on the Big Board today is agricultural stock Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON), last seen up 5% at $96.83. The shares are surging on news that Germany's Bayer AG has made an unsolicited buyout offer for the company, and MON is on track to finish a second consecutive week above a previous level of resistance, rewarding a recent crop of options bulls.

MON Weekly Chart May 19

Automotive parts maker Monro Muffler Brake Inc (NASDAQ:MNRO) is among the Nasdaq's worst performer, down 8.3% to $61.44. The company reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings shy of analysts' estimates and gave a dismal current-quarter and full-year outlook, landing the stock in negative year-to-date territory for the first time since mid-March.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is up 1.5 points, or 9.3%, at 17.44 -- its highest level in more than two months.

Today's put/call volume ratio on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) is 2.32, with puts more than doubling calls. SPY was last seen down 1.7 points, or 0.8%, at $203.24.

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