American Express Breakout Can't Keep Dow Jones Industrial Average Afloat

The Travel Stocks Analysts Are Watching Ahead of Earnings

by Kirra Fedyszyn

Published on Oct 20, 2016 at 11:58 AM

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) attempted to rally shortly after the open, briefly trading in positive territory before turning lower. Traders are digesting the latest interest rate decision by the European Central Bank (ECB), along with a mixed round of economic reports at home. Specifically, weekly jobless claims rose more than expected, while the Philadelphia Fed business outlook survey fell less than predicted, to 9.7, and existing home sales for September rose 3.2% after two months of declines.

Meanwhile, oil prices continue to pull back from Wednesday's highs, with November-dated crude futures last seen off 2.3% at $50.43 per barrel. Looking at individual stocks, disappointing results from Dow components Travelers Companies Inc (NYSE:TRV) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) seem to be overshadowing a huge 9.2% post-earnings gain for American Express Company (NYSE:AXP).

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

Midday Market Stats October 20

Among the stocks with unusual options volume at midday is online payment specialist Paypal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:PYPL). The company is preparing to report earnings after the close tonight, and the stock's options are changing hands at four times the typical intraday volume as speculators place last-minute bets. While skeptics dominated PYPL's options action on Wednesday, it looks like at least a few of today's bettors are eyeing a post-earnings move to the upside. The day's biggest PYPL trade so far took place at the October 41 call, where it appears some contracts were bought to open in a multi-exchange sweep. PYPL was last spotted down 0.6% at $39.99.

Toymaker Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAT) is among the top performers on the Nasdaq today, adding 5.5% to $32.30 after a well-received earnings report. Today's rally has widened MAT's year-to-date lead to nearly 19%, and could have short sellers on edge.

Among the Nasdaq's worst performers, meanwhile, is biotech issue Rigel Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:RIGL). The stock has shed 23.6% of its value to trade at $2.46 following a failed late-stage drug study, and came within striking distance of an annual low earlier in the session. RIGL has now given back nearly all of its gains from the past two and a half months.

RIGL Daily Chart Oct 20

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) has added 0.1 point, or 0.8%, at 14.53.

Today's put/call volume ratio on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) is 2.62, with puts nearly tripling calls. SPY was last seen down 1 point, or 0.5%, at $213.31.

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