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Most Active Options Update: Citigroup, Intel, and Pfizer

C, INTC, and PFE are seeing notable options activity today

by 11/16/2012 1:20 PM
Stocks quoted in this article:

Of the 20 equities with the heaviest options volume in recent sessions, three names of notable interest this afternoon are Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C - 34.79), Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC - 20.14), and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE - 23.82). Here is a quick look at today's interesting trading activity in these options pits.

C is seeing some mixed short-term attention in the option pits today. First, nearly 17,000 of the December 37 calls have changed hands, the majority of which are trading at the ask price. Implied volatility has nudged higher, suggesting some of this volume could be the result of speculators buying to open these out-of-the-money positions in hopes that C shares advance between now and mid-December options expiration. On the other hand, the November 11/23 (weekly) 32.5 puts have seen more than 6,200 contracts trade on zero open interest. Roughly 80% of this volume is trading at the ask price, suggesting these are long puts betting on downside in the shares for the next week.

Meanwhile, it seems put traders have taken an interest in INTC as the stock reaches another new annual low. The most-active option trading on INTC today is the February 20 put, where 10,000 contracts have changed hands versus open interest of just 4,200. Several large and mid-sized blocks traded at the ask price, suggesting they were bought to open. Given the average premium paid of $1.15, the breakeven price -- at expiration -- is $18.85, an additional 4.7% drop from the stock's new low of $19.77 pegged earlier today.

Finally, PFE traders are focused on the short term, as the weekly November 24 call and put are both active in midday trading. The large majority of the out-of-the-money calls have crossed at the bid price -- suggesting sellers are initiating the trades -- while the puts have seen a mix of buying and selling attention. Volume easily exceeds open interest at both strikes, which points to opening activity.

The 20 stocks below have attracted the highest options volume -- in the front three-months' series -- during the past 10 trading days. Data is courtesy of Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White.

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