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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 today is tech concern Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), which is among the best-performing Dow components this afternoon.
Intel Corporation is up 1.6% at $34.78 -- second to only UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) among Dow-listed stocks -- after the firm said its new luxury smart bracelet will hit the shelves early next month, just in time for the holidays. The My Intelligent Communication Accessory (MICA) bracelet -- developed by INTC and Opening Ceremony -- will be compatible with Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) sites, and its $495 price tag comes with AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) wireless service for two years, as well as its own phone number.
Against this backdrop -- and with Intel's annual investor day on Thursday -- option traders are gambling on the equity's short-term trajectory. Overall options volume is running at a 46% mark-up to the average intraday pace, though calls are once again outpacing puts.
Digging deeper, bulls are circling INTC's November 35 call, which is the most active option thus far. Of the roughly 17,600 contracts traded, almost three-quarters have done so on the ask side, and implied volatility (IV) has jumped 4.5 percentage points at the strike. In other words, it appears speculators are buying the contracts to open, amid hopes for INTC to power north of $35 by the close on Friday, when front-month options expire.
On the flip side, skeptics have honed in on the November 34 put, which has seen more than 16,100 contracts change hands -- primarily on the ask side. Volume has surpassed open interest at the strike, and IV is 6 percentage points higher, hinting at newly bought bearish bets. By purchasing the puts to open, the speculators expect INTC to backpedal south of $34 by Friday's close.
No matter the outcome, the most the option buyers are risking is the initial premium paid for their contracts. In light of Intel Corporation's (NASDAQ:INTC) pop, delta on the call has surged to 0.43 from 0.27 at yesterday's close, suggesting a 43% chance of expiring in the money. Likewise, delta on the put has dropped to negative 0.26 from negative 0.41, pointing to narrower odds for an in-the-money finish.