GM Stock Under Pressure on Worker Strike Headwinds

The 2007 strike cost GM over $300 million dollars

by Patrick Martin

Published on Sep 16, 2019 at 9:54 AM

General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) is in focus this morning, after labor union United Auto Works (UAW) went on strike overnight, since contract talks over the weekend stalled. There's an estimated 48,000 hourly workers reportedly headed for the picket lines this morning, the first nationwide strike at GM in 12 years.

The UAW is calling for better guarantees of higher pay and fighting to protect workers from plant closures in Ohio and Michigan. In a statement, GM said the company “presented a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows U.S. jobs in substantive ways." President Donald Trump took to Twitter last night to weigh in, urging both sides to "get together and make a deal."

Today, General Motors stock is down 3.1% to trade at $37.62 and headed for its fourth straight loss. GM spent last week consolidating above its 50-day moving average, but that trendline is set to be breached on a closing basis today. The automaker is still up roughly 11% in 2019. 

Meanwhile, options traders at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) have put GM's 10-day put/call volume ratio at 0.8, and it ranks in the 70th annual percentile. So while long calls still outnumbered puts on an absolute basis, the high percentile indicates puts have been bought to open relative to calls at a quicker-than-usual clip.

Echoing this is the security's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.88, which ranks in the elevated 86th percentile -- showing a very unusual put-skew among short-term speculators. Whatever the motive, now might be the time to speculate on GM's next move with options. The equity's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 24% is in the 21st percentile of its annual range. This means near-term options are currently pricing in relatively low volatility expectations. 

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