U.S. stock futures are down across the board this morning as trade war fears escalate. President Donald Trump yesterday threatened to more than double proposed tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25%.
The intensified rhetoric has spooked many on Wall Street, sending futures sharply lower. At last check, Nasdaq-100 futures were down 0.58%, followed by Dow Jones Industrial Average futures with a loss of 0.45%. S&P 500 futures were off 0.66%.
In options activity, volume remained pretty tame for the first trading day of August. About 17.8 million calls and 15.5 million puts changed hands on the session. Over on the CBOE, the single-session equity put/call volume ratio slipped to 0.67. The 10-day moving average, however, leapt to 0.65 — it’s highest level since April.
Options traders zeroed in on Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) puts ahead of last night’s quarterly report, while Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) saw earnings and ex-dividend activity. MGM Resorts (NYSE:MGM) was flooded with options amid a gaming earnings deluge.
Let’s take a closer look:
Tesla bears are going to be disappointed with today’s earnings reaction. At last check, TSLA stock was up nearly 9% after the company posted better-than-expected revenue and backed third and fourth-quarter guidance.
Tesla also set a goal of producing 6,000 vehicles a week by late August, noting that total vehicle output of 7,000 vehicles per week should enable the company to be sustainably profitable for the first time.
Ahead of the report, TSLA options traders were leaning heavily bearish. Volume rose to 270,000 contracts, with calls making up 52% of the day’s activity. What’s more, the August put/call open interest ratio comes in at a lofty perch of 1.45.
Puts are clearly a favorite among TSLA options traders and it will be interesting to see if last night’s quarterly report will result in a shift in sentiment toward the stock.
It’s been a busy week for PFE investors. The company posted strong second-quarter earnings results on Tuesday, just ahead of today’s ex-dividend date. While some of yesterday’s heavy-handed call activity was related to bullish post-earnings activity, most of it was more than likely focused on dividend capture strategies.
Overall, volume surged to 253,000 contracts on PFE, arriving at nearly 10 times the equity’s daily average. Calls claimed 90% of the day’s take, which is typical of dividend capture activity.
Looking past this activity, we find that PFE options traders are extremely bearish on the shares heading into August. Specifically, the August put/call OI ratio has ballooned to 3.68 in the past month.
In short, puts more than triple calls for the series. Peak put OI totals 5,000 contracts at the $47 strike, with another 4,600 puts open at the $46 strike.
MGM Resorts International (MGM)
MGM stock has been hammered this week. Yesterday, the shares plunged more than 9.5% after fellow gambling concern Caesars Entertainment (NYSE:CZR) provided weak third-quarter guidance. MGM was set to provide its own third quarter results this morning, and options traders were preparing for the worst (and got it).
Volume on MGM rose to 213,000 contracts, or more than seven times the stock’s daily average. Puts made up 55% of the day’s take, running contrary to recently bullish activity on MGM in the options pits.
In fact, the August put/call OI ratio rests at 0.66, with calls nearly doubling puts for the series. With MGM down 9.6% yesterday and 5% so far this morning, a shift in sentiment and more attention to puts can’t be far off.
As of this writing, Joseph Hargett did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.