Stocks are trading mixed in uninspired market action Monday. With no economic news or earnings to guide the action, the table was set for weakness on Wall Street after China unexpectedly raised rates over the weekend. Beyond that, there wasn’t a lot of information to work with. The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened lower and has stayed confined to a narrow 54-point range. The Dow is off 11 points heading into the final hour. The NASDAQ has added 3. The CBOE Volatility Index (.VIX) gained 1.31 to 17.78 and is beginning to “price in” the possibility of more volatile trading in early 2011. Trading in the options market is light, however, with many players on holiday and others stuck at home due to the massive storm across the Northeast. 3.7 million calls and 2.6 million puts traded, or about half the typical volume.
Rare Earth (NYSEMKT:REE) adds $1.18 to $11.34 and bullish flow is detected, with heavy trading in the Jan $9, 10, 11, and 12.5 calls. Total call volume is 9,240 contracts or 2X the average daily. Implied volatility is up 10 percent to 80. Looks like speculative call buying, perhaps in reaction to a PC World story that noted that “Colorado-based Molycorp resumed active mining of the rare earth metal facility at Mountain Pass, California last week.” MCP is up 10 percent.
Dryships (NASDAQ:DRYS) sees a negative reaction to news it plans to buy 12 oil tankers from a Korean shipbuilder over the next three years and also to spin the tanker unit off into a standalone unit. Shares are trading down 18 cents to $5.79 and Jan 6 puts are the most actives, 1375 traded (83 percent Ask). Mar 6 calls are also busy. 1015 traded (94 percent in the Bid).
Implied Volatility Mover
H&R Block (NYSE:HRB) is trading down 92 cents to $11.77 after HSBC ended its agreement to provide the tax preparation company with refund anticipation loans. One strategist seems to view the weakness as an opportunity for a bullish trade and recently bought 4,000 HRB Jan12 $12.5 calls at $1.90 each. Looks opening. Beyond that, the action has been mixed. 8,400 calls and 8,225 puts traded in the first two hours. Implied volatility is up 22 percent to 50.