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by 10/6/2000 8:56 AM
Stocks quoted in this article:
This morning, the Labor Department released the September unemployment rate, non-farm payrolls, and average hourly earnings results. The U.S. unemployment rate came in at 3.9 percent, which was below analysts' estimates of 4.1 percent. Non-farm payrolls grew 252,000 versus analysts' estimates of a 230,000 advance. Although the rise in payrolls was far greater than Street expectations, the majority of the increase was attributed to the return of striking Verizon Communications workers. Average hourly earnings, however, remained benign with a 0.2-percent rise compared to last month's 0.3-percent increase.

Although today's numbers bolster the belief that the Federal Reserve will not ease interest rates anytime soon, the broader market has taken the news quite well. After an initial drop into negative territory upon the release of the reports at 8:30 a.m. EST, the December S&P 500 Index Futures contract (SP/Z0 – 1459.00) has moved into positive territory and is currently up three points, indicating a modestly positive open. <
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by 10/5/2000 4:20 PM
Stocks quoted in this article:
Office-supply retailer Staples (SPLS – 13-3/16) is trading almost six percent lower on above-average volume this afternoon. Earlier this afternoon, the stock recorded a new annual low at 12-3/4. The three-month average daily volume for SPLS is 5.74 million shares. Today, 19.58 million shares have swapped hands.

Yesterday, SPLS chief rival OfficeMax (OMX – 2-3/8) dropped almost 14 percent after issuing an earnings warning for the fourth quarter. OMX has continued its descent, sloughing off nearly 14 percent again today. SPLS is falling in sympathy on general concern for the office-supply niche. Also, SPLS was downgraded on Wall Street this morning, as Salomon Smith Barney cut its ratings on the shares to a "neutral" from a "buy."

On the options front, SPLS is dominating the PHLX, as its October 15 put is the most-heavily traded put on the exchange. Over 24,000 contracts have changed hands on this in-the-money, front-month position. This strike is presently home to 25,253 open contracts. A number of large blocks have traded between the bid and the ask prices throughout the day.
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by 10/5/2000 3:06 PM
Stocks quoted in this article:
This afternoon, software giant SAP (SAP – 56-5/16) has ebbed by over three points, or greater than five percent. With this decline, the stock has dipped back below its upsloping 10-month moving average, a trendline it has closed above for the past three months. The shares have crumbled by more than 18 percent since recording a near-term intraday best on September 5.

In SAP's options pit today, 2,975 put contracts have crossed the tape at the November 60 strike. This in-the-money option had no open interest heading into today's action, which means that all of this activity should become new positions. This is currently one of the most-active put contracts on the Pacific Exchange.


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by 10/5/2000 2:27 PM
Stocks quoted in this article:
Excite@Home (ATHM – 12-3/16) provides Internet access to around two million subscribers. ATHM has maintained a downward slope since late November, sagging nearly 80 percent over the last 11 months. The shares are presently trading below all short-term and long-term moving averages.

Today, ATHM is making a splash in the options pits, with 4,840 contracts trading on the out-of-the-money April 15 call. This is currently the third-most active call trading on the CBOE. Prior to today, this April option was home to only 778 calls, indicating that the bulk of today's volume will translate into new open interest. A number of mid-sized and large blocks, ranging in size from 10 to 450 contracts, have crossed the tape throughout the trading day. These blocks have primarily gone off between the bid and the ask prices. <
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by 10/5/2000 2:21 PM
Stocks quoted in this article:
The GSTI Hardware Index (GHA – 548.5) has eased back by over 18 points, or more than three percent, in mid-afternoon trading. With this retreat, the GHA is poised to notch its worst closing level since June 6. The index has been struggling over the near term, losing nearly 19 percent of its value since its all-time intraday best on September 5. The GHA is now trading below all of its key short-term and intermediate-term trendlines as well as its 10-month moving average.

Index components underperforming today include Compaq Computer (CPQ – 25.80), down 10.5 percent; Dell Computer (DELL – 25-3/4), down 8.8 percent; Lexmark International (LXK – 34-1/8), down eight percent; Hewlett-Packard (HWP – 88-3/8), down 7.4 percent; Gateway (GTW – 49.03), down 5.5 percent; and Apple Computer (AAPL – 22-1/2), down 4.5 percent.

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