Market Chatter: Apple Volatility and Hurricane Sandy
Late day thoughts:
1) Hurricane Sandy getting an unusual amount of early attention. KeyBanc notes that "With trees still bearing leaves, the potential for downed lines is increased" and that this could affect electric utilities like Exelon, FirstEnergy, Pepco and PPL.
(Read more: East Coast Told to Beware of 'Frankenstorm')
Credit Suisse noted that storms of this type (nor'easters with the possibility of snow) "tend to be very good for retail sales due to their advance warning," with grocery stores and home improvement chains the likely beneficiaries.
(Read more: Can Retailers Survive a 'Billion Dollar Storm?')
3) Apple: expect volatility. Traders tell me that Apple options are pricing in a move of 5 to 6 percent tomorrow, after the earnings are released tonight. Either way. Up or down.
Sound like a lot? No. That is the historic norm for Apple. Just look at the price changes in the last three earnings period. This is the change from where the stock closed on the day of its earnings to the price it opened at the next day:
July 24: down 4.4 percent
April 24: down 9.9 percent
Jan. 24: down 8.1 percent
3) How fast are the bots? Plenty fast. Look at Gardner Denver, which was halted at 3:11pm ET because the single stock circuit breaker kicked in, which shuts down any stock that moves more than 10 percent in five minutes. The company has reportedly hired Goldman Sachs to explore a sale of the company.
But it moved much faster than that: one trader told me that it had traded 150,000 shares in the nine seconds before it was halted. More than 1.7 million shares have changed hands today, four times normal, with most of it trading in the first 10 minutes after it resumed trading at 3:17pm ET.
—By CNBC's Bob Pisani
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