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Option traders are targeting Knight Capital Group Inc. (NYSE:KCG - 3.18) with a vengeance today, especially on the call side of the tape. Around midday, the beleaguered trading firm has seen roughly 127,000 calls and 82,000 puts change hands, far surpassing its expected intraday volume of more than 7,200 calls and 8,700 puts.
Digging deeper, we find the out-of-the-money 4 strike has garnered quite a bit of attention among short-term call speculators. So far, the August, September, and October 4 calls have seen around 27,000, 21,500, and 15,800 contracts traded, respectively. What's more, volume has exceeded open interest at all three strikes, and the majority of the calls have crossed at the ask price, pointing to buy-to-open activity. By purchasing the calls to open, the speculators are expecting KCG to muscle back atop the $4 level within the options' respective lifetimes.
On the other side of the tape, it looks like option bears are establishing new positions at the September 2.50 put, which has seen more than 13,000 contracts traded on open interest of fewer than 10,600. Furthermore, the majority of the puts have traded at the ask price -- again, hinting at buyer-driven volume. By purchasing the puts to open, the traders are expecting KCG to extend its recent retreat and breach the $2.50 level within the next couple of months.
On the technical front, the shares have given up roughly 21.2% so far today, and were last seen in the $3.18 vicinity -- bringing their year-to-date deficit to about 73%. Ahead of the bell, the company announced that it struck a $400-million deal with a group of investors, which will help the firm stay afloat in the wake of its now notorious trading snafu. However, as a result of the rescue -- which gives the aforementioned consortium a stake of more than 70% -- analysts expect Knight to eventually be broken up.