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 Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC).
Bank of America Corp shot through the $16 mark yesterday -- an area that served as staunch resistance in November and December -- thanks to a pair of bullish brokerage notes. Specifically, Raymond James raised its price target for BAC to $17 from $16, while Citigroup upped its outlook to "buy" from "neutral" (with a $19 price target).
The stock is extending its lead over this level in today's session, and earlier tagged a three-year high of $16.50. Bank of America has since eased back from this notable milestone, and was last seen lingering near $16.41. Against this backdrop, calls are trading at nearly four times the average intraday volume, and are outpacing puts by a roughly 3-to-1 margin.
The most active contract in the session is BAC's January 2014 16-strike call, where 43,486 contracts have crossed the tape. The majority of these changed hands at the bid price, and according to data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE) (via Trade-Alert), it appears a number of these positions were sold to close.
Elsewhere, eleventh-hour speculators are targeting the weekly 1/3 16.50-strike call, as they bet on additional gains through tonight's close. Of the 18,300 contracts traded here, roughly two-thirds have gone off at the ask price, and volume exceeds current levels of open interest. Should BAC be unable to muster a move north of the strike price over the next two hours, the most the traders have risked is the initial cash outlay. Trade-Alert indicates the volume-weighted average price for the calls is a modest $0.05 per contract.