U.S. stock futures are mixed this morning, pointing toward a rocky open. Technology stocks continue to lead the way lower in the wake of the Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Cambridge Analytica debacle. Meanwhile, Wall Street is prepping for an expected interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve tomorrow.
Finally, trade-war drums continued to beat in Washington. Reports are that President Donald Trump may hit China with $60 billion in annual tariffs by Friday. The European Union is expected to unveil a digital tax on major U.S. tech companies this week.
Heading into the open, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures are up 0.05%, S&P 500 futures are up 0.1% and Nasdaq-100 futures are flat.
Turning to the options pits, volume was brisk on Monday. Overall, about 19.3 million calls and 20.6 million puts changed hands on the session. The CBOE single-session equity put/call volume ratio rose to 0.67. The 10-day moving average slipped to 0.59, its lowest reading since February 2.
Taking a closer look at yesterday’s options activity, Facebook was under heavy scrutiny in the options pits as fears of increased regulation build in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica situation. Meanwhile, Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) saw an influx of options volume after it invested $65 million in Desktop Metal. Finally, Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL) saw a sizable buildup in calls ahead of last night’s earnings. Those bullish hopes didn’t pan out very well.
Facebook Inc (FB)
Let’s be honest. Facebook investors aren’t that upset that Cambridge Analytica harvested 50 million user profiles while violating Facebook’s terms of service. They’re upset that regulation is more than likely on the way. Rumblings for regulation and investigation are already stirring in Washington, and the U.K. is launching its own investigation this week.
FB stock fell nearly 7% on the news, but Facebook stock options traders piled into calls instead of puts. Volume surged to more than 904,000 contracts, with calls making up 60% of the day’s take.
What’s more, the April put/call open interest ratio continues to inch lower, arriving at 0.74 this morning. In other words, speculative FB stock investors believe the shares will bounce back just fine and are buying the dip.
Ford Motor Company (F)
Ford announced yesterday that it made a $65 million investment in metals 3D printing company Desktop Metal. According to Desktop Metal, the company’s printed metal parts are comparable to cast metal parts and are ready to use out of the furnace, with no retooling required.
Ford isn’t using Desktop Metal parts in production vehicles just yet, but the companies are working toward that eventuality.
Ford stock options activity may have been more technical in nature yesterday, however. The shares pulled back to key support/resistance in the $11 region. This prompted a wave of activity in the May series. Ford options traders took aim at the May $12 put and call strikes, with more than 60,000 contracts trading on each yesterday. Most of these contracts traded between the bid and the ask prices.
Oracle Corporation (ORCL)
Oracle stock options traders were unusually bullish on the company ahead of last night’s quarterly report. Volume jumped to 137,000 contracts on Monday,with calls making up 67% of the day’s take. Still, there was a fair amount of trepidation, with the weekly March 23 put/call OI ratio resting at 0.85.
Bearish traders were proved right. ORCL stock is down more than 8% premarket. The company said it earned 83 cents per share on revenue of $9.77 billion. Wall Street was looking for earnings of 72 cents on sales of $9.78 billion.
The real kicker was Oracle’s Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS, business. SaaS sales rose to $1.15 billion, but missed expectations for $1.18 billion, raising questions about guidance going forward.
As of this writing, Joseph Hargett held no positions on the aforementioned securities.