Stocks quoted in this article:
The typically outperforming SPDR S&P Homebuilders (ETF) (NYSEARCA:XHB - 25.07) has taken a step back today, causing option players to make a move. Put volume is currently running at more than three times its typical daily pace, with about 29,000 contracts already changing hands.
The December 22 and 24 strikes are notably active on the put side of the tape. A block of 10,000 of the former traded off the bid price of $0.35 per contract. Given the open interest of 20,000, these could close out a similarly large block of these puts bought for $1.15 in mid-August. The resultant loss – if this is in fact the case -- is $0.80 per contract.
But what's more interesting is that 5,000 contracts traded at the December 24 put strike at the same time, exceeding existing open-interest levels. The lion's share of these options went off at the ask price of $0.81 apiece, making the breakeven point on this strategy $23.19 at expiration. It is possible these traders cut their losses and opened a smaller position at a more conservative (i.e., higher) strike.
Put activity has been accumulating in the ETF, as the 50-day put/call volume ratio at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) of 2.14 is notably less put-heavy than the 10-day ratio of 3.27. What's more, the shorter-term ratio is higher than 71% of the last year's worth of readings, suggesting buy-to-open put activity has been running higher than usual during the last two weeks.
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