Inside the General Electric Company (GE) Open Interest Spike

Call open interest on General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) is at an all-time high

Nov 3, 2015 at 3:28 PM
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At last check, General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) is 1.1% higher at $29.73, possibly benefiting from reports the company may be selling its Australian businesses. Meanwhile, on Monday, the company finalized its deal to buy Alstom's energy business. However, none of this is what brings our attention to GE today. 

Looking to the option pits, call open interest on GE has reached an all-time high, per Schaeffer's Quantitative Analyst Chris Prybal. Put open interest isn't too far behind, either; both the stock's November 35 put and call hold nearly 1.4 million open contracts. (For comparison, the next closest option is the January 2016 35-strike call, with just over 400,000 open positions.)

There's been a steady mix of buy-to-open and sell-to-open activity detected at both the November 35 put and call starting on Oct. 16 -- right after the firm's earnings release -- so there's not a single, clear-cut sentiment read behind these bets. 


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This heavy activity in continuing today, with GE puts crossing at four times the average pace, and calls at three times the average. In fact, the November 35 call and put strikes have each traded in excess of 269,000 contracts so far today. 
 
It's also worth noting that, while open interest in GE options has surged, so has short interest. Specifically, short interest jumped by nearly 35% during the two most recent reporting periods. According to Prybal, the over 127 million GE shares sold short mark a roughly six-year high. Since GE -- currently at $29.70 -- hasn't traded above $35 since April 2008, it's possible that some of the heavy call open interest at the out-of-the-money November 35 strike is reflective of increased hedging activity by this recent influx of shorts.

Looking ahead, there are some upcoming events that could affect the stock. For instance, the U.S. on Monday rejected an antitrust proposal from General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) and Electrolux AG regarding the latter's proposed acquisition of GE's appliance business. The matter is now set to head to trial as early as next week.
 

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