Early Options Trades on XLF, Chesapeake Energy, and Valeant Pharmaceuticals

Calls are still the options of choice on XLF, and speculators are also targeting Chesapeake and Valeant

Apr 5, 2017 at 11:31 AM
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In early options trading today, calls on the Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund (NYSEARCA:XLF) are active. So far, roughly 31,000 XLF call options have changed hands, compared to only about 5,000 puts. The April 24.50 call has traded volume of 10,495 contracts, with data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE) confirming buy-to-open activity. Meanwhile, the April 24 call is right behind, with 10,129 contracts traded.

On the charts, XLF is fractionally higher at $23.82. The financial ETF has rallied more than 19% from its pre-election close at $19.99 on Nov. 8, and options traders have responded by loading up on XLF call options. Buy-to-open volume data from the ISE, Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) shows a 10-day call/put ratio of 3.63 for XLF, which ranks higher than 96% of other such readings from the past year.

Among individual equities, call volume on Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) has surged to six times the intraday norm, with the 72,000 calls traded easily outstripping the 16,000 puts that have crossed the tape. The most active CHK options strike is the April 6.50 call, where 14,175 contracts have been exchanged.

CHK is nearly flat today at $6.36, but the stock is looking to nab a daily close above its 80-day moving average for the first time since Jan. 27. On an intraday basis, CHK peaked earlier at $6.59 -- marking the energy stock's first touch of that popular $6.50 strike since the Feb. 10 intraday high.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) is down 5.3% at $9.63, and earlier fell as far south as $9.60 -- the stock's lowest level since May 2009. VRX options volume has jumped to three times the norm, with about 57,000 calls and 23,000 puts exchanged.

The call activity can be traced back to two massive blocks of 15,000 contracts that traded at the weekly 4/28 13-strike call and May 11 call, where one trader appears to have rolled VRX calls down and out.

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