U.S. stock futures are trading higher this morning. Investors remain cautiously optimistic ahead of key inflation data, while eyeing Hurricane Florence as it bears down on the East Coast.
The August consumer price index arriveed ahead of the open this morning, coming in at 0.2% while economists were expecting a rise of 0.3%. Weekly jobless claims came in at 204,000 vs 201,000 expected.
Heading into the open, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average are up 0.3%, with S&P 500 futures adding 0.23%. Nasdaq-100 futures are up 0.38%.
In the options pits, volume surged on Wednesday to a near-term high. About 21.1 million calls and 14.9 million puts changed hands on the session. On the CBOE, the single-session equity put/call volume ratio hit a two-week low of 0.55. The 10-day moving average held pat at 0.62.
Let’s take a closer look:
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)
Analysts at Rosenblatt Securities lifted their price target on AMD stock Tuesday to $40 from $30. The brokerage firm said that AMD is ramping up production of its next generation 7-nanometer GPU faster than expected. The new chipset should give AMD an advantage over rival Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA), Rosenblatt said.
It was the second bullish analyst note this week for AMD, pushing the shares to their highest perch since 2006. AMD options traders rushed to chase the rally.
Volume on Wednesday rose to 859,000 contracts, or about 1.6 times AMD’s daily average. Calls claimed 70% of the day’s take. However, there is evidence that this recent spate of call activity could be attributed to profit taking.
Specifically, the October put/call open interest ratio has edged higher in the past two sessions. This reading came in at 1.13 on Tuesday, and has risen to 1.14 today. With call volume clearly in the lead during this period, we are likely looking at profit taking on AMD, not the addition of new positions.
AMD’s rise has resulted in INTC’s fall. The shares are down more than 27% since their June highs. INTC has also pulled its 50-day and 200-day moving averages into a bearish cross. As a result, many analysts have proclaimed that INTC stock is now trading in bear market territory.
Reaction in the options pits was interesting yesterday. Volume swelled to 268,000 contracts, more than tripling INTC’s daily average. Calls only made up 52% of the day’s take.
Block trade activity was also intriguing for INTC. According to Trade-Alert.com, an October $42 straddle crossed the tape late yesterday, with each leg totaling 20,000 contracts. Additionally, the Sep $45 put was also a heavy favorite with several large blocks of 10,000 contracts or more trading at the bid price.
BTIG Research downgraded SNAP stock to “sell” from “neutral” yesterday. Analysts at the ratings firm said they were “tired of Snapchat’s excuses for missing numbers” and set a price target of just $5 per share — a roughly 50% decline from SNAP’s current trading range.
Concerns are also rising about Snaps’ spendthrift ways. The company burned through $500 million in the first half of 2018, and is now sitting on just $2 billion in cash. Analysts worry that Snap will have to raise cash through a stock offering next year if the company continues to burn through reserves.
Options traders took the warnings to heart yesterday. Volume rose to over 246,000 contracts, or about 3.5 times the stock’s daily average. Puts gobbled up 60% of the day’s take.
Looking out to October, the sentiment picture is already bearish for SNAP options traders. The October put/call OI ratio comes in at 1.17 and is rising. In short, puts are becoming increasingly popular on SNAP, despite the stock’s continued decline.
As of this writing, Joseph Hargett held no position in any of the aforementioned equities.