U.S. stock futures are trading mixed this morning. Renewed trade war fears are limiting Wall Street’s upside, as traders look to close out May on a largely positive note.
Political uncertainty in Italy remains a top concern, while the White House could announce tariffs on the EU as soon as today. Still, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is looking at a 2% gain for May. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 Index is up 2.9% for the month and the Nasdaq Composite has surged 5.6%.
Heading into the last trading day of May, Dow futures areflat. S&P 500 futures are up 0.03% and Nasdaq-100 futures have added 0.04%.
In options activity, volume surged heading into the end of the month — a typical time for portfolio re-positioning. Overall, about 18.2 million calls and 14.7 million puts changed hands on the session. On the CBOE, the single-session equity put/call volume ratio fell to 0.56. The 10-day moving average held at 0.60.
Options traders continued to load up on Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU) calls on Wednesday, despite rising concerns from China about memory prices. Elsewhere, Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) call options volume surged following a projection for flat second-quarter revenue. Finally, AbbVie Inc. (NASDAQ:ABBV) put volume rolled in following a Credit Suisse downgrade.
Let’s take a closer look:
Micron Technology, Inc. (MU)
Micron stock has soared to its highest levels since the dotcom boom this week. The shares topped out north of $64.50 before rolling over yesterday. Micron has continued to ride buying strength from it’s stronger-than-expected second-quarter forecast and $10 billion stock buyback plan.
However, profit taking and rising concerns that China may take action on DRAM and NAND pricing lead to selling pressure yesterday. In fact, MU stock is down nearly 3% premarket.
Those concerns didn’t stop MU stock options traders yesterday. Volume jumped to 528,000 contracts, with calls gobbling up 71% of the day’s take. What’s more, weekly June 22 options remain considerably popular ahead of next month’s quarterly earnings report.
The weekly June put/call open interest ratio rests at 0.33, with calls tripling puts for the series. That said, this reading has risen off last week’s low of 0.27, indicating that puts are starting to gain a bit of a following.
Bank of America Corp (BAC)
Second-quarter revenue from sales and trading will be flat year over year, Bank of America Chief Executive Brian Moynihan said yesterday. The statement follows on the heels of similar concerns from JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), which warned of similar results earlier this week.
However, Moynihan said BofA would benefit from share buybacks. If you’re a regular reader of mine, you know my opinion on companies using share buybacks to boost stock prices.
BAC options traders didn’t appear perturbed by the news, however. Volume yesterday rose to over 491,000 contracts, or about 1.5 times BAC’s daily average. Calls made up a whopping 83% of yesterday’s activity.
That said, short-term BAC options traders remain on the fence. Currently, the June put/call OI ratio comes in at 0.97, with puts and calls in near parity for the series. BAC’s recent breach of support near $30 likely isn’t helping bolster bullish sentiment on the shares right now.
AbbVie Inc. (ABBV)
AbbVie stock largely ignored a bearish research note from Credit Suisse yesterday. The ratings firm cut ABBV stock to “underperform” and dropped its price target to $89 from $104. Credit Suisse cited longevity concerns for flagship drug Humira due to emerging competition and a lack of exciting replacement medications in the company’s pipeline.
ABBV stock options traders took note of the news, however. Volume swelled to 167,000 contracts, or more than 2.5 times AbbVie’s daily average. Puts claimed 55% of that activity.
What’s more, the short-term outlook among ABBV options traders is heavily bearish. Currently, the June put/call OI ratio comes in at 1.37, with puts firmly in command. If ABBV fails to retain support at $100, we could see this ratio rise even higher.
As of this writing, Joseph Hargett held no positions on any of the aforementioned securities.