Calls Players Bombard Booming SPDR Gold Trust ETF (GLD)

SPDR Gold Trust ETF (GLD) hit a nearly two-year high earlier, as traders flock to safe-haven assets

by Karee Venema

Published on Jun 24, 2016 at 2:56 PM

It's a big day for gold bugs, with the malleable metal soaring as speculators flee to "safe haven" assets amid the broader "Brexit" bloodbath. With stock volume running in the 99th annual percentile, the SPDR Gold Trust ETF (GLD) was last seen up 4.7% at $125.76 -- and fresh off a nearly two-year high of $126.82. Meanwhile, in the options pits, total volume is running at two times what's typically seen at this point in the day, with calls outpacing puts by a more than 2-to-1 margin.

Most active is GLD's September 125 call, due to a block of 21,000 contracts that changed hands earlier -- and may be part of a larger spread -- although it's not clear at this time whether these positions are being opened or closed. Elsewhere, it looks like one speculator may have rolled her August 130 calls up to the 140 strike, or could possibly have initiated a long call spread with the two back-month options.

More broadly speaking, options traders have shown a preference for long calls over puts on GLD of late -- including last week's multi-million-dollar bullish bet. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the exchange-traded fund's (ETF) 10-day call/put volume ratio of 2.70 ranks in the 78th annual percentile.

While some of this activity could be a result of speculative players hedging with options ahead of yesterday's "Brexit" referendum, those purchasing GLD's near-term options have been willing to pay a pretty penny. In fact, SPDR Gold Trust ETF's (GLD) 30-day at-the-money implied volatility of 20.8% rests just 8 percentage points from a 52-week peak, meaning the options market has been pricing in some relatively steep volatility expectations.

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