U.S. stock futures are trending cautiously higher this morning, as focus remains on the Federal Reserve and the central bank’s interest rate policy. While the Fed is widely expected to raise rates at this week’s meeting, investors are keen to uncover clues to the bank’s policy outlook for 2018.
On the options front, volume was anemic on Monday, with only about 14.1 million calls and 10.9 million puts changing hands yesterday. As for the CBOE, the single-session equity put/call volume ratio rose to 0.63, while the 10-day moving average once again held at a 12-month low of 0.58.
Taking a closer look at Monday’s options activity, Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) calls and puts were active as reports emerged that “hundreds” of Model 3s are now showing up at delivery centers. Meanwhile, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) call options jumped on news the company affirmed its acquisition of music and image recognition service Shazam. Finally, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. (NYSE:VRX) was call heavy ahead of a pair of drug milestones for the company.
Tesla Inc (TSLA)
With TSLA stock on the verge of a “death cross,” news emerged to help rocket the shares more than 4% higher. Electric vehicle news website Electrek reported that “hundreds” of Model 3s were showing up at distribution centers in California. The news eased Model 3 production concerns for investors, prompting a surge in TSLA shares. However, Electrek did note that “It wasn’t clear if this would mark an increase in the delivery volume,” since they were unable to verify if production bottlenecks had been cleared.
It was all the speculation TSLA options traders needed. Volume surged to 190,000 contracts, or roughly 1.4 times Tesla’s daily average. That said, calls, or bullish options bets on TSLA, only made up 55% of yesterday’s activity.
Furthermore, most of this speculation appears to have been on front-month activity, as the January 2018 put/call open interest ratio remained unmoved at 1.52 from yesterday’s reading. TSLA stock is still in danger of a “death cross,” or a cross of its 50-day moving average below its 200-day moving average, and resistance still lies overhead near $330-$335. Tesla is not out of the woods just yet.
Apple Inc. (AAPL)
AAPL stock bounced back nearly 2% yesterday, extending a relief rally following nearly a week of losses. Helping to prop up the shares was news that Apple acknowledged that it was acquiring Shazam, a London-based online image and music recognition service.
Apple hopes to utilize the company to further improve customer music discovery on Apple Music and beyond. “We have exciting plans in store, and we look forward to combining with Shazam upon approval of today’s agreement,” Apple said in a statement.
AAPL options volume was relatively normal on the day, as about 474,000 contracts changed hands. Calls made up an above average 65% of the day’s take, however. Looking out to January 2018, there is still a fair amount of trepidation among speculative traders, however.
The January 2018 put/call OI ratio rests at 1.04, with puts just barely outpacing calls for the first month of the new year. AAPL stock has had trouble with resistance near $175 in the past month, and the $170-$175 region is home to heavy put and call open interest as a result.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. (VRX)
VRX options speculators have a smorgasbord of events on the horizon this month. First, Valeant’s new glaucoma treatment, Vyzulta, goes on sale for the first time this month, and analysts have high hopes for the treatment. Second, the FDA is set to decide the fate of Valeant’s Luminesse treatment for ocular redness by Dec. 27.
Optimism is rising ahead of both events, as evidenced by the recent attention to VRX call options. On Monday, VRX saw volume spike to 156,000 contracts, or nearly double Valeant’s daily average. Calls made up an impressive 65% of the day’s take.
Furthermore, that optimism has extended into January 2018, where the put/call OI ratio has fallen to a reading of 0.76. That said, expectations remain tempered, as peak call OI for the series rests at the in-the-money $17.50 strike, followed by the also in-the-money $19 and $20 strikes.
As of this writing, Joseph Hargett did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.