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Markets Close Slightly Up

Stocks ended up slightly on the day, although volume was real thin as investors paid little heed to lackluster retailer earnings.

Stocks ended up slightly on the day, although volume was real thin as investors paid little heed to lackluster retailer earnings. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 9.7 points, or .09%, at 10,415. The Dow is almost back to positive territory for the year, although it remains down 0.12%. The S&P 500 gained 1.62 points, or 0.15%, to close at 1094, and the Nasdaq was up 6.26 points, or 0.28%, to finish at 2215. Gold gained 0.25%, at $1,229.70, rising for the sixth consecutive session.

The energy sector was under pressure because the government announced both crude and gasoline inventories were at unusually high levels for August. Inventories of crude, gas, and distillate are all above the upper end of the range of the five-year average. Traders are concerned that demand for fuel is not keeping up with growing U.S. stockpiles.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) was up $0.26, at $24.59. The VIX September 24 straddle is at $6.15, while October is at $8.25. VIX call option volume of 135,000 contracts compares to put volume of 91,000 contracts. 19,000 VIX September 32 call contracts traded and 25,000 September 37 calls traded, suggesting traders having a willingness to initiate sizable hedges on concerns of increased market movement.

The SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) - Get SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust Report closed up $0.20, at $109.79. SPY September put volatility of 22 is near its 26-week average, suggesting non-directional price movement for August expiration, on August 20. SPY has technical resistance at its 200-day moving average and support at $109.10, its 50-day moving average.

The fact that the market was up and the VIX up, indicates that traders are in wait-and-see mode ahead of the Jobless Claims report due out at 8:30 a.m. EDT and Leading Indicators and the Philadelphia Fed Survey, both to be released at 10:30 a.m. EDT. Consensus for Jobless Claims is 480,000, Leading Indicators expectations are for up 1% and consensus for the Philadelphia Fed Survey is for a reading of 7.0.

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Notable companies reporting Thursday include: Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) - Get Dick's Sporting Goods Inc Report, Dollar Tree Stores (DLTR) - Get Dollar Tree Inc. Report, Sears Holding (SHLD) , Toro (TTC) - Get Toro Company (The) Report, Towers Watson (TW) - Get Tradeweb Markets Inc. Report and Williams-Sonoma (WSM) - Get Williams-Sonoma Inc. (DE) Report.

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