This column was originally published on RealMoney on Aug. 31 at 4:26 p.m. EDT. It's being republished as a bonus for readers.

We all have a job to do, and that fact is driven home on the first Friday of the month when we will spend the majority of our workday compiling, reporting, dissecting and trading on the monthly employment data.

But no matter what tomorrow's number brings, we'll always have today, which was flat and uneventful; the VIX was unchanged at 12.65, the put/call inched lower to 0.65 and overall volume was among the lowest of the year.

Outside of the big gold merger between


(GLG) - Get Report




, which sparked some spillover option interest across the precious metals sector, it was retail that was in the spotlight.

Monthly same-store sales were mixed, but the theme was teen retail apparel, such as

American Eagle

( AEOS) and

Abercrombie & Fitch

(ANF) - Get Report

, which did well, while midmarket department stores, such as

J.C. Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

, did not. Volatility was down across the sector, and


(TIF) - Get Report

, which reported weak earnings, saw its IV decline 20% as the stock slid 5% on the day.

And today's "I'm not dead yet" award goes to

Joy Global

( JOYG), which was about one more shovel's worth of dirt from being buried at a new 52-week low before the mining-equipment company shot up some 22% or $8, after a solid earnings report.

Option volume was about 20 times its average daily volume, and IV actually held pretty firm, which is unusual after an earnings report. Note, the stock is still down some 40% from its May high of $72 per share. That's quite a hole to dig out.

Steven Smith writes regularly for In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He was a seatholding member of the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) from May 1989 to August 1995. During that six-year period, he traded multiple markets for his own personal account and acted as an executing broker for third-party accounts. He appreciates your feedback;

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