Dow Jones Industrial Average Pauses Rally as Yellen Testifies

Options Traders Brace for Giant Groupon Move

Feb 14, 2017 at 12:01 PM
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) has explored a relatively narrow range of just over 50 points so far today, chopping on either side of breakeven since the open. While oil prices tick higher -- last seen up 0.9% at $53.41 per barrel for the March futures contract -- stocks are reacting to hawkish comments from the Federal Reserve. Following a speech by Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker this morning, in which he made a case for "significantly higher rates," the spotlight has turned to Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who kicked off a two-day testimony before Congress. So far, Yellen has reiterated her commitment to serve her full term, and said that while interest rate increases should continue to be gradual, it would be "unwise" to wait too long -- firmly putting a rate hike at the central bank's mid-March meeting on the table.

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

  • The Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) partnership boosting this toymaker.
  • How options traders are bracing for another giant post-earnings swing for Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN).
  • Plus, a massive put spread on NetApp, General Motors' M&A buzz, and a retailer plummeting to annual lows.

Midday Market Stats February 14

Among the stocks with unusual options volume at midday is tech stock NetApp Inc. (NASDAQ:NTAP). The shares are taking a slight breather, off 0.1% at $39.54, after earlier tapping an annual high of $39.90 on upbeat analyst attention ahead of tomorrow night's earnings. And in NTAP's typically quiet options pits, the stock's put are flying across the tape at 22 times the expected intraday pace, thanks to a spread of 4,000 contracts each initiated at the February 38 and 40 puts. Data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE) indicates its a massive bear put spread ahead of earnings. As such, NTAP's put volume is now on pace to finish the day at a 52-week high.

Carmaker General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) is among the top performers on the New York Stock Exchange, on news the company is in talks to sell its Europe-based Opel unit to Peugeot owner PSA Group. The stock has tacked on 5.3% today to $37.39, extending its year-over-year lead to 34.5%.

Among the worst performers on the Nasdaq at midday is retail stock Hibbett Sports, Inc. (NASDAQ:HIBB), down 12.6% to $29.07, after earlier tapping an annual low of $28.55. Weighing on the shares today is disappointing full-year guidance, which inspired a round downgrades and price-target cuts from the brokerage bunch. HIBB is off 36.6% from its mid-November annual high after being rejected at its 30-day moving average on Monday.

HIBB Daily Chart February 14

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