Stocks quoted in this article:
The 20 stocks listed in the table below have attracted the highest total options volume during the past 10 trading days. Names highlighted are new to the list since the last time the study was run, and data is courtesy of Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White. One name of notable interest this afternoon is Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL).
Apple Inc. is 1.2% higher today to trade at $537.22, thanks to an early morning upgrade at Pacific Crest. In the stock's options pits, roughly 142,000 calls and 105,000 puts have crossed the tape, which is about average for this point in the day. Meanwhile, nine of the top 10 most active strikes expire at this Friday's close, as speculators scramble to place bets on the stock's short-term trajectory.
On the bullish side, the weekly 3/14 540-strike call is the most sought-after position thus far. More than 16,700 contracts have changed hands here -- a healthy portion of which have gone off at the ask price. Plus, volume outstrips open interest, pointing to buy-to-open activity. Delta for the call is docked at 0.37, suggesting a 37% chance the option will be in the money when the closing bell rings on Friday. AAPL last traded north of $540 on an intraday basis on Feb. 19.
Meanwhile, on the bearish side, the weekly 3/14 535-strike put has received notable attention. The majority of the 9,760 contracts traded here have crossed on the ask side, and volume exceeds current levels of open interest, making it safe to assume that new positions are being initiated. On the charts, AAPL closed south of this strike in yesterday's session, but found a foothold atop this mark when it notched today's intraday low of $535.06.
Should AAPL stay confined to the $535-$540 range through Friday's close, the most either set of option buyers stand to lose is the initial premium paid. Considering Apple Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AAPL) 30-day at-the-money IV continues to decline, falling to a new annual low of 17.3% today, speculators can rest easy knowing premium on the stock's short-term options is relatively inexpensive, from a volatility perspective.