Dow Jones Industrial Average Pares Gains After All-Time High

Dow Signal Could Flash for the Second Time Ever

Feb 23, 2017 at 11:59 AM
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) jumped at the open, tagging the latest in its series of record highs, and set for its 10th straight gain. But as traders digest this morning's tax reform comments from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the large-cap index has pared its lead, while the S&P 500 Index (SPX) -- which also notched a fresh all-time peak out of the gate -- has slipped into the red. Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (COMP) barely saw the north side of breakeven before plummeting on a round of disappointing earnings.

Oil prices are rallying today on a smaller-than-expected build in U.S. stockpiles. Up 2.2% at $54.76 per barrel, crude for April delivery could close at its highest level in nearly seven weeks. Gold prices are also on the rise, as the dollar backtracks and investors lean toward caution following Wednesday's Fed meeting minutes, with the April futures contract up 1.5% at $1,251.40 an ounce, on track for its highest close since mid-November. And the central bank is likely to stay in focus, with Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan due to speak this afternoon.  

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

  • The Dow signal that could go off for the second time in history.
  • 5 must-watch ETFs on our trading radar.
  • Plus, last-minute bets on Transocean, Square taps record high, and L Brands spirals.

Midday Market Stats February 23

Among the stocks with unusual options volume at midday is oil-and-gas concern Transocean LTD (NYSE:RIG). The shares are soaring 6.8% to $14.19, thanks to a well-received earnings report, and RIG options are changing hands at three times the average intraday rate, with calls roughly doubling puts. The weekly 2/24 series is particularly popular, accounting for half of the stock's 10 most active strikes. Leading by a wide margin is the 14-strike call, where it appears traders may be purchasing new positions, betting RIG shares can extend their gains through tomorrow's close, when the weekly series expires.

Payment processor Square Inc (NYSE:SQ) is among the top performers on the New York Stock Exchange at midday, with a smaller-than-predicted quarterly loss and a round of upbeat analyst notes helping the shares rally to a record high of $17.75 earlier this morning. SQ was last seen up 12.6% at $16.94, bringing its year-to-date lead to 24.3%.

SQ Daily Chart February 23

Among the worst performers on the Big Board, meanwhile, is retail stock L Brands Inc (NYSE:LB), down 16.1% at $48.80, after earlier tapping a three-year low of $47.93. A fourth-quarter earnings beat was overshadowed by a lowered same-store sales forecast, and a slew of brokerage firms took the opportunity to cut their outlooks on LB, which has given back roughly 42% over the past 12 months.

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