Stocks got off to a rocky start on the first trading day in December, with the S&P 500 Index slipping just below 2050 on Monday. Based on one large bullish SPX options trade executed on Wednesday, however, such price action is not likely to break the trend of strong gains observed in the benchmark index since mid-October. It looks like one options market participant purchased 25,000 of the 31Dec’14 2105/2115 call spreads at a net premium of $2.70 each. The trade cost $6.75mm to put on, and represents the maximum potential loss on the position should the 2105 calls expire worthless at the end of December. The call spread could reap profits of as much as $7.30 per spread, or $18.25mm, in the event that the SPX ends the year above 2115. The index would need to rally 2.0% over the current level of 2072.5 in order for the bullish trade to realize maximum possible gains.
By Andrew Wilkinson at International Brokers (originally published on Nov. 25)
It only took a few minutes to rack-up 100,000 option contracts in early trading as Apple’s market cap surged to a record. The shares touched $119.75 valuing the company in excess of $700 billion. After 15-minutes of trading, option dealers had traded more than 200,000 contracts with the most commonly traded strike of 120.0 accounting for a little over one-quarter of total volume. Around 50,000 call options at the 120.0 strike have dominated trading compared to only 8,000 puts. Bearish plays attracted far less attention across the board as bullish sentiment was maintained. Option implied volatility is up by 4% to 22.6% on Apple options.
Chart – Call option activity dominated as shares in Apple surged
A four-year low for the spot price of gold has had a devastating impact on Yamana Gold (Ticker: AUY), with shares in the name down at the lowest price in six years. Some option traders were especially keen to sell premium and appear to see few signs of a lasting rebound within the next five months. The price of gold suffered again Wednesday as the dollar strengthened and stock prices advanced. The post price of gold fell to $1145 adding further pain to share prices of gold miners. Shares in Yamana Gold tumbled to $3.62 and the lowest price since 2008 as call option sellers used the April expiration contract to write premium at the $5.00 strike. That strike is now 38% above the price of the stock. Premium writers took in around 16-cents per contract on almost 10,000 call options. Ahead of the session, less than half that number of call options were held among investors. The spate of call selling on the name contributed to around half the overall volume tally of 21,600 contracts, which is already above the 10-day average reading of 16,100 lots associated with the stock. Option implied volatility is up only marginally on Yamana Gold at 60.9% with the market value of the company halving in the past six-weeks. The most widely-held option across all strikes is the April 2015 6.0 strike put option where open interest remains at 44,000 contracts.
Chart – Open interest highest at 6.0 strike puts expiring in April
There is lots of action in Southwest Airlines Co. November expiry call options today ahead of the air carrier’s third-quarter earnings report prior to the opening bell on Thursday. Among the large block trades initiated throughout the trading session, there appears to be at least one options market participant establishing a call spread in far out of the money options. It looks like the trader purchased a 4,000-lot Nov 37/39 call spread at a net premium of $0.40 apiece. The trade makes money if shares in Southwest rally 9.0% over the current price of $34.32 to exceed the effective breakeven point at $37.40, with maximum potential profits of $1.60 per contract available in the event that shares jump more than 13% to $39.00 by expiration. In September, the stock touched a more than 15-year high of $35.55. Shares in LUV last traded near $39.00 in 1994.
Shares in Apple (Ticker: AAPL) are near their highs of the session in the final hour of trading on Wednesday, adding to the muted gains seen earlier in the day, following the release of the September FOMC meeting minutes and after activist investor and Apple shareholder Carl Icahn tweeted, “Tmrw we’ll be sending an open letter to @tim_cook. Believe it will be interesting.” Icahn’s tweet hit the ether at 2:33 pm ET and was met with a spike in volume in Apple shares. The stock is currently up 2.0% on the day at $100.75 as of 3:15 pm ET.
Alibaba (Ticker: BABA) options have been trading for one week. Let’s take a look at where options traders have accumulated the most positions in BABA call and put options. Per the below chart, the 90.0 strike calls and puts are by far the most held options contracts across all available expiries on the Chinese e-commerce giant. All told, it looks like there are approximately 52,000 contracts held at the 90.0 strike level, or roughly 17% of total open interest on the name of 312,000 contracts. The call/put interest ratio of approximately 1.5 on Alibaba indicates more of the open interest held of investors is in call options versus puts on the stock. Shares in BABA today are roughly flat on the session to stand at 88.20, and options traders have exchanged a little more than 22,000 contracts versus the stock’s average daily options volume of 99,000 contracts.
The CBOE Vix Index topped 17.0 and the highest level since early-August on Monday morning amid declines in U.S. equities to start the trading week. The volatility index is off its earlier highs to trade 5.0% higher on the session at 15.65 as of 11:30 am ET. Options volume on the VIX is hovering near 360,000 contracts, or just more than 50% of the average daily reading of around 660,000 contracts. Calls are far more active than put options, as evidenced by the call/put ratio up above 4.2 in morning trading, perhaps as some traders position for volatility to stick around.
Large call spreads traded on the VIX today caught our attention as one big options market participant appears to be rolling a bull call spread from the October to November expiration. A 45,000-lot Oct 19.0/23.0 call spread appears to have been sold, while the November 17/23 call spread appears to have been purchased, all at a net premium of $0.57 per contract. The spread looks for volatility to potentially rise to the highest levels since December 2012 when the VIX touched a two-year high of 23.23. The chart below marks the 17.0 and 23.0 levels (dashed lines), the striking prices selected in the Nov 17.0/23.0 bull call spread.
At around 10 am ET on Wednesday, shares in SunEdison Inc. (Ticker: SUNE) reversed early-morning declines and jumped more than 11% to $21.39 on speculation General Electric Co. (Ticker: GE) may be interested in purchasing the company. Speculation has since been snuffed out after a spokeswoman for General Electric stated the company is not in talks to acquire the company. Shares in SUNE continue to trade up on the session, albeit off earlier highs, to stand 3.5% higher on the day at $19.98 and above its opening print of $19.46. The move in the stock sparked very heavy trading in options on the stock, sending volume to just below 100,000 contracts by 1:00 pm ET versus average daily options volume of around 24,000 contracts. Much of the trading traffic was in SUNE calls, driving the call/put ratio to roughly 10.0 during the first half of the session. Volume in shares of SUNE also spiked, with nearly 25mm shares traded versus average volume of 11.3mm shares.
Investors are dumping shares in Yahoo, sending the stock down 5.0% to $40.08 after shares in Alibaba made their debut on the floor of the NYSE just before midday. Shares in BABA for their part initially traded up to a high of $99.70, a near 47% increase over the IPO price of $68.00. Typically, one would expect put options that are 5% out of the money with roughly 4-hours left to trade to see waning implied volatility. But, at the start of the trading session and ahead of the first trade for BABA, the Sep 19 ’14 40.0 strike put options were trading with 271% volatility or $0.30 per contract amid uncertainty as to how the start of trading for Alibaba would take shape.
After shares in BABA debuted, volatility in the 40.0 strike puts imploded, dropping almost immediately to 154% and sending premium on the contracts down to as low as $0.04 each. However, with shares in BABA at $90.70 as of 12:30 p.m. ET and having backed off of their intraday highs to trade below the initial traded price of $92.70, selling pressure on Yahoo is increasing and premium on those YHOO 40.0 strike puts has ripped to the upside. At last check, the 40.0 strike put options with just hours to go before expiration are changing hands at $0.60 apiece at roughly 150% implied volatility.
Overall volume in Yahoo options has surpassed 1 million contracts, more than twice the stock’s average daily options volume of 453,000 contracts.
The CBOE Vix Index is in positive territory on Friday morning as shares in the S&P 500 Index move slightly lower. Currently the VIX is up roughly 2.75% on the session at 13.16 as of 11:35 am ET. Earlier in the session big prints in October expiry call options caught our attention as one large options market participants appears to have purchased roughly 106,000 of the Oct 22.0 strike calls for a premium of around $0.45 each. The VIX has not topped 22.0 since the end of 2012, but it would not take such a dramatic move in the spot index in order to lift premium on the contracts. The far out-of-the-money calls would likely increase in value in the event that S&P500 Index stocks slip in the near term. The VIX traded up to a 52-week high of 21.48 back in February. Next week’s release of the FOMC meeting minutes from August could give rise to increased volatility in U.S. equities. If you recall, the VIX spiked to approximately 17.5 on August 1st amid concerns over geopolitical risk that sent market participants scrambling for protection as stocks slumped.
I am tired of hearing people insist that the Fed can expand credit all it wants. Sometimes an analogy clarifies a subject, so let's try one.
It may sound crazy, but suppose the government were to decide that the health of the nation depends upon producing Jaguar automobiles and providing them to as many people as possible. To facilitate that goal, it begins operating Jaguar plants all over the country, subsidizing production with tax money. To...
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I will be keeping posts to a minimum until the New Year. Friday finished with a bit of a high volume flourish, which added a nice gloss to Thursday's big gains.
The Russell 2000 managed to go one step further with a breakout. Watch this index over the coming days; if it can hold the move it will bring other indices with it. The Russell 2000 has under-performed (relatively) all year, and if bulls are to maintain a broader market rally into a sixth year then the Russell 2000 will have to do most of the leg work. As an important side note, the Russell 2000 turned net bullish technically. The flip-side is to watch for a 'bull trap', but even here, this might instead widen the recent trading range handle as major resistance lives at 1,210/15 not at 1,190.
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PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs! The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down! The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months. What could go wrong?
Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.
Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies. A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...
Stocks have needed a reason to take a breather and pull back in this long-standing ultra-bullish climate, with strong economic data and seasonality providing impressive tailwinds -- and plummeting oil prices certainly have given it to them. But this minor pullback was fully expected and indeed desirable for market health. The future remains bright for the U.S. economy and corporate profits despite the collapse in oil, and now the overbought technical condition has been relieved. While most sectors are gathering fundamental support and our sector rotation model remains bullish, the Energy sector looks fundamentally weak and continues to ran...
Stocks got off to a rocky start on the first trading day in December, with the S&P 500 Index slipping just below 2050 on Monday. Based on one large bullish SPX options trade executed on Wednesday, however, such price action is not likely to break the trend of strong gains observed in the benchmark index since mid-October. It looks like one options market participant purchased 25,000 of the 31Dec’14 2105/2115 call spreads at a net premium of $2.70 each. The trade cost $6.75mm to put on, and represents the maximum potential loss on the position should the 2105 calls expire worthless at the end of December. The call spread could reap profits of as much as $7.30 per spread, or $18.25mm, in the event that the SPX ends the year above 2115. The index would need to rally 2.0% over the current level...
I officially bought 250 shares of EZCH at $18.76 and sold 300 shares of IGT at $17.09 in Market Shadows' Virtual Portfolio yesterday (Fri. 11-21).
Click here for Thursday's post where I was thinking about buying EZCH. After further reading, I decided to add it to the virtual portfolio and to sell IGT and several other stocks, which we'll be saying goodbye to next week.
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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