With U.S. Stocks on the Rebound, Will the RUT Defeat 800?

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Wall Street is on track to maintain yesterday's positive momentum, with Wednesday's big market gains triggered by Alcoa's (AA ) classy start to earnings season. With the S&P 500 Index ( SPX ) effectively shaking off its longest losing streak since November, traders will be taking time today to focus on:

  • the Russell 2000 Index ( RUT ) , and what's in store for the small caps
  • a glut of economic data, including weekly jobless claims and the monthly trade deficit
  • rising Italian bond yields
Among equities in focus, earnings season continues, with Rite Aid Corporation (RAD ) and Fastenal (FAST ) both stepping up to the plate.

And now, on to the numbers...

Dow, S&P and Nasdaq futures

Market Statistics

Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange ( CBOE ) saw 1,078,917 call contracts traded on Wednesday, compared to 712,627 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio arrived at 0.66, while the 21-day moving average was 0.62.

NYSE and Nasdaq summary

Volatility indices

Currencies and Commodities

  • The U.S. dollar index has backpedaled 0.3% this morning to trade at $79.57.
  • Crude oil meanwhile, continues its march higher , with the front-month contract up 0.4% at $103.54 per barrel.
  • Gold futures have pulled back, with gold for June delivery down 0.3% at $1,656 an ounce.

Currencies and commodities

In earnings news, Rite Aid Corporation (RAD - 1.70) said its fiscal fourth-quarter loss narrowed to $161.3 million, or 18 cents per share, from last year's loss of $205.7 million, or 24 cents per share. Thanks to an extra week of sales in the prior quarter, revenue jumped 11% to $7.12 billion. RAD also recorded a 3% improvement in same-store sales, the pharmacy's highest in five years. The results were mixed, with analysts calling for a loss of 14 cents per share on $6.98 billion in sales. For fiscal 2013, RAD projects a per-share loss of 13 cents to 31 cents per share on revenue ranging from $25.4 billion to $25.8 billion, while Wall Street forecast a loss of 25 cents per share on $25.74 billion in revenue. RAD is up 0.6% in pre-market trading.

Fastenal (FAST - 49.63) banked a first-quarter profit of $100.2 million, or 34 cents per share, up 26% from its year-ago earnings of $79.5 million, or 27 cents per share. Net sales for the period advanced 20% to $768.9 million, but gross margin contracted to 51.3% from 52%. The results fell just short of Wall Street's expectations. On average, analysts were looking for a profit of 35 cents per share on $769 million in revenue. FAST is 0.7% lower ahead of the bell.

Earnings and Economic Data

weekly jobless claims producer price index (PPI) Google ( GOOG ) J.B. Hunt Transport Services ( JBHT ) LDK Solar Co. (LDK) SchaeffersResearch.com

Overseas Trading

European markets are mixed at midday, with rising Italian bond yields putting a damper on investor sentiment. Royal Dutch Shell is a notable laggard, thanks to reports indicating the presence of an oil slick near the site of the oil major's Gulf of Mexico operations. On the other hand, Royal Bank of Scotland is on the upswing amid speculation that investors from Qatar and Abu Dhabi are looking to acquire a stake in the lender. At last check, the German DAX has advanced 0.6%, the French CAC 40 is up 0.1%, and London's FTSE 100 is 0.1% lower.

Overseas markets

Unusual Put and Call Activity:

For an explanation of how to use this information, check out our Education Center topics on Option Volume and Open Interest Configurations .

Unusual options activity - puts

Unusual options activity - calls

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This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: CBOE , GOOG , JBHT , RUT , SPX

Schaeffer's Investment Research

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