U.S. stock futures are headed higher for their sixth day in a row as sentiment is lifted by OPEC production cut extensions and the near certainty of a Federal Reserve rate hike next month. That said, crude oil futures are down 1.6% at $50.66 per barrel as the Saudis ruled out deeper production cuts as part of the deal extension.
Heading into the open, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average are up 0.26%, S&P 500 futures have added 0.19% and Nasdaq-100 futures have rallied 0.3%.
On the options front, volume remained well below average for the past three weeks, with only about 13.3 million calls and 12.1 million puts changing hands. On the CBOE, the single-session equity put/call volume ratio ticked higher to 0.62, while the 10-day moving average held at 0.61.
Heading up Wednesday’s options activity, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) options traders continued to pile into calls after iPhones made in India finally went on sale in the country. Meanwhile, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is looking to join the online video streaming movement by inking deals with a quartet of content providers. Finally, Nvidia Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) received a boost after SoftBank revealed it has amassed a $4 billion position in the company.
Apple Inc. (AAPL)
India has been a tough market to break into for many U.S. technology firms, but Apple has finally broken through where others have failed.
After negotiating a production deal in the country to make iPhones in India, possibly for $100 less than it does anywhere else in the world, Apple is finally selling its flagship smartphone to Indian consumers. And with iPhone sales declining in the U.S. and China, the new market is a much-needed boost for Apple.
Apple options traders are betting on big things from the company’s move into India, as call volume remains high on AAPL stock. Yesterday, nearly 585,000 contracts traded on AAPL, with calls snapping up an above average 67% of the day’s take. As proof of the added call attention, AAPL’s June put/call open interest ratio continues to decline, slipping from 1.18 earlier this week to 1.17 on Wednesday. Most of the attention is centered on the $155 strike, where more than 84,000 contracts reside, though the $160, $165 and $185 strikes all sport OI in excess of 20,000 contracts, each.
Facebook Inc (FB)
Facebook is making a play for online streaming video. The social media giant just inked streaming content deals with Vox Media, Buzzfeed, ATTN, and Group Nine Media according to Reuters. Specific terms of the deals are confidential, but Facebook is looking to produce both long and short-form content with ad breaks. The first scripted shows are reported to consist of 20-30 minute episodes, to which Facebook will own the rights.
FB stock rose more than 1.3% to reclaim $150 following the news, and options traders joined in the bullish revelry. Volume topped 456,000 contracts on Wednesday, with calls claiming an above-average 65% of the day’s take. That said, FB has seen enthusiasm slip in recent weeks, with the June put/call OI ratio drifting higher from its early May perch near 0.63 to today’s reading at 0.71. With the shares trading just shy of all-time highs, options traders appear reluctant to bet bullish on FB stock at the moment.
Nvidia Corporation (NVDA)
NVDA stock added another 1.1% to its recent breakneck rally after news broke that SoftBank had amassed a $4 billion position in the company. SoftBank has previously expressed plans to become the biggest technology investor in the next 10 years, and Nvidia fits that portfolio nicely, leading the way in semiconductors for A.I., the Internet of Things, VR and data centers. The vote of confidence in Nvidia’s technology has resonated bullishly with NVDA investors and options traders.
In fact, on Wednesday, NVDA options traders sent more than 303,000 contracts across the tape, with calls accounting for 62% of that volume. Looking out to June options, however, we find that there is plenty of room on the bullish bandwagon. Currently, the June put/call OI ratio rests at a lofty 1.33, with puts easily outnumbering calls among front-month options.
It would appear that speculative traders are betting on a short-term reversal for NVDA stock, given the shares’ recent surge following earnings. Some consolidation may be in order, but NVDA’s long-term uptrend is showing no signs of slowing.
As of this writing, Joseph Hargett did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.