U.S. stock futures are higher across the board this morning, as tech stocks and the Nasdaq Composite look to recover from yesterday’s drubbing. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is already stealing the spotlight, however, with futures edging above 24K in premarket action. Oil and oil producers will be in focus this last trading day of November, as OPEC begins its meeting in Vienna to discuss production cuts.
On the options front, volume remained considerably brisk as traders continue to reposition ahead of the end of November. Overall, about 28.9 million calls and 18.4 million puts changed hands on the session. As for the CBOE, the single-session equity put/call volume ratio rebounded to 0.52, but the 10-day moving average hit a second consecutive two-month low of 0.60.
Taking a closer look at Wednesday’s options activity, calls were heavy across the board on the tech sector, despite the Nasdaq shedding 1.27% on the day. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was flooded with calls despite news of a serious security flaw in its Mac operating system. Meanwhile, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) was also call heavy despite shedding 4% on the day. Nvidia Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) was also flush with call activity, despite the added concern of plunging demand from bitcoin miners.
AAPL stock was initially smacked lower following the revelation of a serious security flaw in computers running MacOS High Sierra. The flaw allowed anyone to take over the computers simply by entering the username “root” and then clicking the login button several times. Apple has since issued a patch for the security hole.
The news helped push AAPL stock even lower amid a broad-based selloff in technology stocks. Apple shares ended the day down more than 2%. That didn’t stop AAPL call options from flooding across the tape, however. Volume topped 761,000 contracts, or roughly 1.45 times AAPL’s daily average — likely due to end-of-the-month repositioning by hedge funds and institutional traders.
Still, calls made up an above-average 67% of the day’s take. What’s more, profit taking — i.e., selling to close existing positions — doesn’t appear to have been the main driver. For instance, Apple’s December put/call open interest ratio has fallen from Monday’s perch at 0.55 to today’s reading of 0.51. Rising call open interest relative to put open interest is a bullish sign, and an unexpected one amid yesterday’s selloff.
Facebook was also hit hard in yesterday’s tech market dive. FB stock shed 4% on the day, with analysts hinting that Wall Street is going through a sector rotation — moving money out of tech stocks like FB and AAPL and into bets perceived as safer heading into as 2018. Back in September, shortly after the sudden drop in the tech-sector, I warned that such a sector shift could be one of the warning signs of a broader market correction.
As for FB options, the bulls once again seemed unphased. Volume surged to more than 507,000 contracts, more than doubling Facebook’s daily average. Furthermore, calls made up an impressive 70% of the day’s take, with speculators apparently viewing the selloff as a bullish opportunity.
The effect was noticeable among short-term FB options, as the December put/call OI ratio ticked lower from 0.85 yesterday to 0.83 today, as calls were clearly added at a faster clip that puts.
High-flying NVDA stock was hit the worst among today’s most active tech stocks. Nvidia stock plunged nearly 7% yesterday, pushing the shares to a daily close below their 50-day trendline for the first time since August 11. Adding to NVDA’s woes was this week’s bearish report from Mizuho, which called an end to the cryptocurrency mining boom for semiconductor makers.
As with FB and AAPL, NVDA bullish options traders were undeterred. Volume more than doubled Nvidia’s daily average, arriving at 337,000 contracts, while calls snapped up 64% of the day’s take.
That said, the December put/call OI ratio arrives at a bearish reading of 1.54, as speculators worry that NVDA stock is due for a correction.
As of this writing, Joseph Hargett did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.