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Most Active Options Update: Intel, Hewlett-Packard, and Citigroup

INTC, HPQ, and C are actively trading in the options pits today

by 11/23/2012 11:19 AM
Stocks quoted in this article:

Three of today's most actively traded large-cap names among options players are Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC - 19.75), Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ - 12.20), and Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C - 36.03). Here is a quick peek at some interesting activity we are seeing in these option pits today.

With INTC up roughly 2% today as it whittles away at its 2012 deficit of nearly 19%, put traders have sprung into action. Nearly 26,000 contracts have traded at the December 20-strike put, including two blocks of 12,500 contracts trading above the ask price. Given that implied volatility has actually inched lower at this strike, this could be a case of former put sellers closing out of this now in-the-money position to avoid assignment. Elsewhere, there appears to be some buying attention on the 11/30 20-strike put, where nearly all of the 7,300 contracts trading have gone off at the ask price.

Turning to HPQ, it appears this overloved underperformer is seeing a bit of an exodus from its options pits. Blocks of 10,000 traded simultaneously on the January 2015 10- and 17-strike calls. It appears investors are closing out of this long-term bear call spread at a net debit of $2.44 (buying to close the 10 strike and selling to close the 17 strike). According to data from Trade-Alert, it looks as though this spread was sold to open on Nov. 6 for a credit of $3.05, making today's close a respectable profit of $0.61 per spread.

The December 32-strike put has caught the eye of some C speculators today, as more than 4,000 contracts have traded on the out-of-the-money option. Implied volatility has edged higher, suggesting some of the volume could be on the opening side. The large majority has traded at the ask price, for an average premium of $0.21 per contract. If these are indeed being purchased to open, it suggests the outlook that C will drop south of $31.79 (strike less premium paid) within the next few weeks before December options expire.

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

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