U.S. stock futures are pointing toward a lower open this morning, as tech stocks, led by declines in Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), are headed lower once again. Wall Street appears a bit nervous ahead of a speech from Janet Yellen in London, even though the Federal Reserve chairwoman isn’t expected to offer any new information on monetary policy. Meanwhile, the Case-Shiller U.S. home prices index for April and the June consumer confidence figures are due out later this morning.
Against this backdrop, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average have slipped 0.06%, S&P 500 futures have fallen 0.08% and Nasdaq-100 futures are sharply lower, diving 0.43%.
On the options front, volume was rather anemic on Monday, with only about 13.9 million calls and 10.1 million puts changing hands. On the CBOE, the single-session equity put/call volume ratio bounced to 0.64, matching the 10-day moving average.
Driving Monday’s options activity, Apple saw increased call option speculation following a report the company has partnered with Hertz Global Holdings, Inc (NYSE:HTZ) on a self-driving car initiative. Elsewhere, Facebook stock briefly hit new all-time highs on reports the company is in talks to products its own streaming TV content. Finally, Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU) attracted a rush of call volume as Thursday’s quarterly earnings report approaches.
Apple Inc. (AAPL)
More news broke on Apple’s self-driving car initiative yesterday, as Bloomberg reported the company has leased several Lexus RX450h SUVs from Hertz’s Donlen fleet-management unit. HTZ stock surged more than 13% on the news, but AAPL stock edged lower for the day amid growing unease in the tech sector. Neither company responded to queries about the deal.
Aside from a spike in volume for AAPL options, it appeared to be business as usual for traders, despite the self-driving car news. Volume rose to a hefty 768,000 contracts, but calls only managed an average 64% of yesterday’s take. What’s more, it appears that some of AAPL’s call options activity in the past week has been of the sell-to-close variety.
Specifically, the July put/call open interest ratio has risen from last week’s perch at 0.68 to today’s reading of 0.69. It’s a minor increase, to be sure, but it is still a signal that put OI is gaining on call OI amid short-term traders.
Facebook Inc (FB)
According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook is looking to produce its own TV-quality shows. The social media behemoth has reportedly approached studios in Hollywood about creating streaming content, with a launch target of late-summer. Facebook is also willing to share viewership data with participating Hollywood studios. The company has already lined up a smattering of content, including a relationship drama called “Strangers,” and a game show titled “Last State Standing.”
FB stock briefly tagged a fresh all-time high of $156.50 on the news, before succumbing to broader selling pressure in the tech sector. Options traders focused on the news and the highs, sending more than 612,000 contracts across the tape, with calls making up an above average 71% of the activity. What’s more, optimism is on the rise for FB options, as the July put/call OI ratio has fallen to a perch of 0.68 from its mid-June reading of 0.79. If any Hollywood studios bit on Facebook’s offer, we could see a continued rise in FB call open interest.
Micron Technology, Inc. (MU)
Options traders appear to be betting big ahead of Micron’s third-quarter earnings report this Thursday. Volume topped 309,000 contracts, with calls snapping up 79% of the day’s take. What’s more, Trade-Alert.com reports that one trader bought to open 20,000 July $28 calls for the ask price of $5, or $500 per contract. The July $28 call is currently trading 4.5 points in the money, so the bet is somewhat safe — relatively speaking.
Meanwhile, the 30 June put/call OI ratio rests at a bullish reading of 0.41, with calls more than doubling puts among those options most affected by Micron’s quarterly report, and implieds are pricing in a move of about 8.8%, putting the upper bound at $35.36 and the lower bound at $29.64.
Digging into the numbers, Wall Street is expecting a profit of $1.50 per share on revenue of $5.41 billion, which is up 86.6% year-over-year. EarningsWhispers.com places the whisper number at earnings of $1.53 per share.
As of this writing, Joseph Hargett did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.