Booming Economic Data Boosts Dow

Consumer sentiment surged to a 14-year high

Karee Venema
Mar 16, 2018 at 11:58 AM
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) has traded in a 174-point range on both sides of breakeven so far today, last seen in positive territory as D.C. drama takes a backseat to a relatively upbeat round of economic data. Specifically, the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index surged to a 14-year peak of 102 in March, the number of U.S. job openings rose to a record 6.3 million in January, and industrial production jumped 1.1% in February -- its quickest pace since October. The S&P 500 Index (SPX) and Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) are also higher at midday, though all three indexes are on track to close lower on the week.

midday market stats march 16

Among the list of stocks with unusual options volume today is VeriFone Systems Inc (NYSE:PAY), with more than 20,000 puts on the tape -- 54 times what's typically seen at this point in the day. By comparison, just nine calls have traded. Most of the action has centered at the April 18 and May 18 puts, and appears likely to be the result of a bearish roll. PAY has been stuck below stiff resistance from its 200-day moving average since November, last seen trading up 0.5% at $17.88.

Ulta Beauty Inc (NASDAQ:ULTA) is the best stock on the SPX at midday, even after the cosmetics retailer's earnings report was met with bearish brokerage attention. Nevertheless, ULTA stock was last seen up 6.7% to trade at $220.03 -- extending a recent bounce off familiar support in the round $190 region.

ulta stock daily chart march 16

Zscaler Inc. (NASDAQ:ZS) began trading on the Nasdaq today, after the cloud security software firm priced its initial public offering (IPO) at $16 late Thursday. The newest tech stock opened at $27.50, and was last seen trading up 68.8% at $27.00, after topping out at $28.02 earlier.


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