U.S. stock futures are treading water just above breakeven this morning, as Wall Street holds its breath and waits for the geopolitical damn to break tomorrow. In what has been dubbed Super Thursday, testimony will arrive from former FBI director James Comey on Russian interference in the 2016 election, the U.K. general election will take place and the EU central bank will hand down its decision on monetary policy.
In the meantime, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average are up 0.02%, S&P 500 futures have inched 0.06% higher and Nasdaq-100 futures have edged 0.07% higher.
On the options front, volume leaped back into action on Tuesday, with roughly 16.5 million calls and 12.9 million puts crossing the tape. On the CBOE, calls remained front and center, with the single-session equity put/call volume ratio arriving at 0.59. The 10-day moving average, meanwhile, held at 0.61.
Diving into Tuesday’s options activity, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is currently in the midst of its annual WWDC, but the stock has barely moved despite product refreshes including new iMac and iMac Pro lineups. Meanwhile, Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD) saw heavy call option volume on news that it’s GPUs are lacking supply heading into new product launches this month. Finally, Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) and other banking issues are being pressured by falling long-term interest rates.
Apple Inc. (AAPL)
Back in Apple’s heyday, the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) was an even looked forward to by both consumers and investors. New product launches and fresh ideas mingled with refreshes of popular product lines.
That was then.
Now, the biggest thing to come out of this year’s WWDC is an updated line of iMacs and iMac Pros that, honestly, brings Apple’s computers up to date with current PC models (i.e., iMacs are finally getting access to Intel Corporation’s (NASDAQ:INTC) Core i7 processors — chips PCs have had for years).
Apple has essentially gone nowhere this week during the conference, but that hasn’t stopped AAPL options traders from speculating. On Tuesday, more than 1 million contracts changed hands, with calls snapping up a hefty 72% of the day’s take.
What’s more, AAPL options traders appear to be holding out for that “one more thing”, as the June 9 put/call open interest ratio is currently perched at 0.65, with calls on the verge of doubling puts in this weekly series that is focused heavily on the WWDC.
The conference is still taking place, so there is still time, but the offerings from Apple so far could leave bulls in the lurch.
Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD)
While the WWDC hasn’t done much for AAPL, it has given a boost to AMD.
Advanced Micro Device’s Radeon Pro series is making its way into the new iMac Pros, scoring a coup for the semiconductor maker. Additionally, just as AMD is scheduled to release its new GPU line at the end of the month, reports are emerging that supplies of existing GPUs are lacking, hinting at strong demand for AMD.
Options traders are jazzed about the recent strength, especially with the shares jumping more than 7% following the iMac announcement. Volume surged to nearly 700,000 contracts on Tuesday, with calls gobbling up some 76% of the day’s take.
Even short-term AMD options traders are looking for additional gains, as the June put/call OI ratio has fallen to a reading of 0.65 in recent weeks, as calls are added at a faster pace than puts.
However, there is room for more short-term bullishness, with peak June call OI of 2,700 contracts residing at the at-the-money $12 strike.
Bank of America Corp (BAC)
Interest rates were supposed to rise, and continue rising throughout 2017. Despite several rate hikes from the Federal Reserve, and a promised rate hike later this month, that just isn’t the case … and it spells trouble for BAC stock.
Forecasts for bank revenues were predicated on strong investment income that was to be significantly bolstered by higher rates. But long-term rates are now falling, with the yield on 10-year Treasury at its lowest point of the year, as traders seek out safe-haven investments amid the currently volatile geopolitical environment and fears that stocks have risen too far too fast.
BAC stock has shown signs of breaking down recently, with the shares retreating from their March highs near $26. That weakness has yet to impact options traders, however, as calls continue to pour in. On Tuesday, these typically bullish bets made up 64% of the more than 662,000 contracts traded on Bank of America. What’s more, the June put/call OI ratio has plummeted to a reading of 0.49, with the recent attention to calls pushing the contracts to more than double puts among short-term options.
This seeming lack of awareness of the dangers facing BAC stock among options speculators is a bit disconcerting from a contrarian investing standpoint, and could signal additional weakness for Bank of America before things get better.
As of this writing, Joseph Hargett did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.