Stocks quoted in this article:
The 20 stocks listed in the table below are the S&P 400 MidCap Index (MID) components that 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 today is United States Steel Corporation (NYSE:X), where option traders are targeting short-term puts. In fact, eight of X's 10 most active strikes are puts.
So far today, put volume on United States Steel Corporation is running at a 29% mark-up to the average intraday volume. On top of that, the stock's 30-day at-the-money implied volatility (IV) has edged higher, indicating slightly stronger-than-usual demand for short-term options.
Taking the top two positions are the weekly 8/8 35-strike put and August 34 put, which are both seeing buy-to-open activity. Specifically, the majority of the contracts at each strike have crossed at the ask price, IV is on the rise, and volume outstrips open interest.
The in-the-money weekly puts are being scooped up at a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $0.49, making at-expiration breakeven at this Friday's close $34.51 (strike less VWAP). The VWAP for the out-of-the-money August-dated puts is $0.57, resulting in a breakeven mark of $33.43 at the close on Friday, Aug. 15, when front-month options cease trading. The two sets of speculators will profit the lower X finishes below the respective breakeven levels, while the most they will surrender is the initial premium paid, should they be holding onto out-of-the-money contracts at expiration.
On the charts, United States Steel Corporation ran to a multi-year high of $35.42 earlier, but is currently off 0.3% at $34.72. Still, the shares have roughly doubled in value on an annual basis, helped most recently by an earnings-induced bull gap late last month.