Most Active Options: JetBlue Airways Corporation and United States Steel Corporation

Options traders have been more put-skewed than usual toward JetBlue Airways Corporation (JBLU) and United States Steel Corporation (X)

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Apr 4, 2016 at 11:35 AM

The 20 stocks listed in the table below have attracted the highest total options volume among mid-cap names during the past 10 trading days. Names highlighted are new to the list since the last time the study was run, and data is courtesy of Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White. Two names of notable interest are transportation titan JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ:JBLU) and mining magnate United States Steel Corporation (NYSE:X).

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JBLU is down nearly 3% at $20.71, after losing out to Alaska Air Group, Inc. (NYSE:ALK) in its attempt to purchase Virgin America Inc (NASDAQ:VA). As JetBlue's stock falls, its options are trading at 10 times the usual intraday rate -- with calls more than doubling puts.

In recent months, however, options traders have been buying to open JBLU puts over calls at an accelerated clip. Specifically, the stock's 50-day put/call volume ratio of 0.87 across the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) sits just 4 percentage points from an annual high.

Technically speaking, JetBlue Airways Corporation is not unfamiliar with technical turbulence. Year-to-date, the shares have shed nearly 9% of their value, and have faced pressure in recent months from their descending 80-day moving average.

Meanwhile, X has been outperforming since the end of February, as commodity stocks have been fighting back. The shares have bested the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by almost 86 percentage points over the past 40 sessions, and at $16.55, have more than doubled in value on a year-to-date basis.

Short-term options traders may be starting to feel the heat. X's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 2.76 ranks in the put-skewed 94th percentile of its annual range. Meanwhile, bearish brokerage firms may need to rethink their positions, considering 11 of 13 rate the outperforming stock a "hold" or worse.

In today's options pits, traders are placing bets on United States Steel Corporation's short-term prospects. The weekly 4/8 series accounts for five of the six most active strikes, with possible buy-to-open activity at the at-the-money 16.50 put. If this is the case, these buyers think X will breach $16.50 by Friday's close, when the weekly options expire.

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