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General Electric Catches the Attention of Short-Term Put Sellers

GE's weekly puts are being sold-to-open today

by 12/3/2012 2:43 PM
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Put sellers are descending on General Electric Company (NYSE:GE - 20.94) in today's session. Nearly 40% of the roughly 10,000 puts traded have crossed at the weekly 20.5 and 21 strikes, which expire at the close this Friday. The majority of these contracts have changed hands at the bid price, and volume is easily outstripping open interest. In other words, new positions are being initiated here.

By selling these near-the-money puts to open, traders expect GE to remain above the $20.50 or $21 mark, respectively, through the end of the week. In this best-case scenario, the options will expire worthless, and the speculators can pocket the average premium collected -- $0.05 and $0.18 per contract, as indicated by Trade-Alert.

Expanding the scope, however, reveals that option players, overall, have preferred to use traditional methods to bet bullishly on GE in recent weeks. Specifically, the stock's 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX call/put volume ratio of 4.04 ranks in the 87th percentile of its annual range, implying bullish bets have been accumulated over bearish at an accelerated clip during the past two weeks.

This uptick in neutral-to-bullish betting is understandable given GE's technical backdrop. Over the past 52 weeks, the stock has added more than 30%. The equity recently hit a four-year high of $23.18 on Oct. 5, and proceeded to consolidate around its 50-week moving average. However, GE took a bounce from this trendline, suggesting the stock may have found a new layer of support.

In today's session, GE is following the broad-market bias lower. If the stock is unable to stay north of the short put strikes, the aforementioned put sellers may have to buy the security at the respective strike price, regardless of how far it falls. A portion of the losses may be offset, though, thanks to the initial net credit collected.


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