Options Volume Pops as Alibaba Stock Signals Breakout

BABA stock has broken north from its recent consolidation

by Josh Selway

Published on May 1, 2019 at 2:24 PM

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) is spiking higher today, after make-up company Estee Lauder (EL) said its earnings beat was partially due to strong sales from Alibaba's Tmall marketplace. BABA stock is trading up 3.2% at $191.42, breaking north from a recent consolidation below $190. This would mark the equity's highest close since July, and options traders may be betting on more upside in the short term. 

With still more than two hours left in the trading session, call volume has run well past the daily average, driven by huge demand at the weekly 5/3 190-strike call, which expires at the close this Friday. Buy-to-open activity appears likely, so these traders are hoping for Alibaba stock to keep pushing above $190 in the coming days. Similar activity appears to be occurring at the weekly 5/10 192.50-strike call.

Buying calls have certainly been the strategy of choice among speculators at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) in recent weeks. The 10-day call/put volume ratio across these exchanges is 3.23, and ranks in the 98th annual percentile. But on an absolute basis, there's been relatively little interest in BABA options, with open interest for calls and puts sitting in the 9th and 2nd annual percentiles, respectively.

Short interest is still high on Alibaba, despite the shares' roughly 40% year-to-date gain and steady support from the 50-day moving average. Going by average daily trading volumes, it would take short sellers almost eight sessions to cover.

alibaba stock price

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