Stocks closed down on Thursday, erasing earlier gains, as worries about a slowing economy overshadowed an upbeat report on jobless claims. Investors are anxious for the latest reading on second-quarter gross domestic product, which is expected to show the economy grew much less than previously estimated. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 74.25 points, or 0.74%, to close at 9985. The S&P 500 lost 8.09 points, or 0.77%, to close at 1047, and the Nasdaq was down 22.85 points, or 1.07%, to finish at 2118.

Looking ahead to Friday, traders will be focused on the GDP announcement at 8:30 a.m. EDT and Consumer Sentiment at 9:55 a.m. EDT. In addition, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will give a speech on the economic outlook at the Kansas City Fed's annual Jackson Hole conference at 10 a.m. EDT. Notable companies reporting before the open tomorrow include: The National Bank of Greece (NBG) and Tiffany & Co. (TIF) - Get Report

The CBOE Volatility IndexI:VIX moved higher on the close in anticipation of Ben Bernanke's speech. The VIX closed up $0.66, at $27.36. The VIX had an intraday low of $25.86, occurring in mid-morning, with a high of $27.55 near the close of trading. VIX call volume of 136,000 contracts compares to put volume of 64,000 contracts. Traders purchased September 30, 32, 35 and 37 calls during the last hour, as a hedge around the uncertainty of what Bernanke will say at Jackson Hole. Bernanke said the "economic outlook remains unusually uncertain" at a Senate testimony last month.

The SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) - Get Report closed down $0.71, at $105.23. SPY calls have traded 770K contracts, verses 1.04 million puts. August weekly put option implied volatility increased to 34 from 32 during late afternoon trading. September volatility is at 27, October is at 28 and November is at 29. The increases in August option implied volatility reflected trader's uncertainty of what Bernanke will say.

The PowerShares QQQ( QQQQ) closed down $0.43, at $43.54. QQQQ call option volume of 136,000 call contracts compares to 240,000 puts. QQQQ August put option implied volatility is at 35, September is at 32, October is at 27 and December is at 31. Implied volatility is above its 26-week average of 31, suggesting larger December price movement.

Legg Mason (LM) - Get Report closed up $0.25, at $25.45, on renewed takeover chatter. LM September call option implied volatility is at 40 and November is at 45, versus its 26-week average of 40. Call option volume of 15,000 contracts compares to put volume of 563 contracts, suggesting traders taking positions for large

OptionsProfits, a new provider of options news from TheStreet, educates investors and acts as a catalyst for trading.

Readers Also Like:

>>Shifting Sands

Readers Also Like:

>>Scalping Some Financials Skew

Readers Also Like:

>>Mortgage Rates: How Low Can They Go?