Stocks finish the day slightly higher, but the Dow lost ground in the final minutes of trading to close below 12,000 after bouncing above and below that level much of the session.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 8.25 points, or 0.07%, to close at 11,985. The S&P 500 rose 5.45 points, or 0.42%, to close at 1296, and the NASDAQ was up 20.25 points, or 0.74%, to finish at 2739.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) closed down 5.4%, at 16.64, on overall put volume of 205,000 contracts compared to 170,000 call contracts, with April and May 15 puts as the most active series. VIX volatility remains low as the Fed leaves rates unchanged and traders reacted to the FOMC announcement with a yawn. 60 and 90-day implied volatility is at 72 and 67, respectively, indicating decreasing price movement in the outer months.

So, what is the next event that could potentially move volatility? Earnings have been relatively lackluster and the market has done a great job of beating up any bears who thought that we could actually see some sort of downtrend. Conditions were ripe for more aggressive selling but the shorts and underinvested bulls swooped in on that opportunity.

SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) volatility also remains low, suggesting continued expectations of flat risk. SPY touched a 52-week high to close up $0.50, at $129.67, on overall put volume of 1.05 million put contracts compared to 515,000 call contracts, with January (W) 129 puts as the most active series. 60 and 90-day implied volatility is 15 and 16, respectively, indicating slightly higher price movement in the outer months.

The PowerShares QQQ Trust (QQQQ) closed up $0.30, at $56.83, on overall put volume of 256,000 contracts compared to 133,000 call contracts, with February 57 puts as the most active series. 60 and 90-day implied volatility is at 17 and 18, respectively, suggesting little price movement in the outer months.

Notable companies reporting before the open on Thursday, January 27 include: AVT, AZN, BAX, BEN, BMY, BSY, CAT, CELG, CL, CNH, CY, DHI, DHR, ETN, FNFG, HP, IVZ, JBLU, JCDecaux, JNS, KSU, LLL, LLY, LMT, MJN, MO, MSI, MUR, NOK, NUE, NVS, NWL, PCP, PG, POT, RTN, SWK, T, TKR, Tullow Oil, TWC, TYC, UA, VLY, ZMH; earnings after the close: AMCC, AMZN, ARBA, CB, CRUS, DRIV, FII, FNF, HUBG, INFA, INFN, KLAC, LSCC, MCHP, MSFT, MWW, OPNT, PMCS, QLGC, RVBD, SNDK, TSRA, VPRT, VRSN, VSEA.

Events for the remainder of the week:

¿ Thursday: Initial Claims, December Durable Orders, November Pending Home Sales

¿ Friday: Q4 GDP-Adv, Q4 Chain Deflator-Adv, Q4 Employment Cost Index, January Michigan Sentiment - Final

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