U.S. stock futures are headed lower this morning, as Wall Street prepares for a deluge of Federal Reserve speakers following last week’s interest rate hike. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans will appear on TV today and speak in New York later, while several other speakers are slated for the rest of the week to talk about the Fed’s thinking on monetary policy.
Against this backdrop, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average have dipped 0.08%, with S&P 500 futures are off 0.18% and Nasdaq-100 futures have shed 0.04%.
On the options front, volume remained above average on Friday amid March expiration. Overall, roughly 17.6 million calls and 16.5 million puts changing hands to close out the series. Over on the CBOE, the single-session equity put/call volume ratio ticked higher to 0.61, while the 10-day moving average edged lower to 0.63.
Turning to Friday’s volume leaders, Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) saw increased dividend speculation following CEO Brian Moynihan’s annual letter to shareholders. Elsewhere, Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) continued to see speculation surrounding capital expenditures heading into the launch of the Model 3, while Snap Inc (NYSE:SNAP) plunged following a bearish note from Moffett-Nathanson.
Bank of America Corp (BAC)
Bank of America has been itching to raise its dividend for some time now. But, with Fed approval needed to lift its own dividend, the company has placed its hopes on President Donald Trump’s promise to lift banking sector regulations.
Once BofA gets the go-ahead on either front, it is just a matter of time before the company’s dividend moves higher. In fact, in his annual letter to shareholders, CEO Brian Moynihan mentioned “dividend” nine times, two of which reinforced a “focus on increasing” BofA’s quarterly payout.
BAC options traders appeared to take heart in the prospect of higher dividends. Volume rose to 942,000 contracts on Friday, with calls accounting for 70% of the day’s take. Looking out to April, the put/call open interest ratio comes in at a bullish reading of 0.51, with calls nearly doubling puts among near-term options. That said, this speculation may be more geared toward Bank of America’s upcoming quarterly earnings report.