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5 Banks to Consider as Options Plays

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- For a market not expected to do much before the election, it's hard to deny we are in a bull market. The S&P 500 ETF (SPY) chart is trending higher with the widely followed moving averages all pointing north.

While many market pundits were busy building a wall of worry, others were busy making money. It's hard to say what the SPY and the overall market will do in front of the election, but even with the market giving back gains, many in the banking sector already have low growth priced in.

Banking suffers from future unknowns. Wall Street hates problems without a clear and convincing level of risk exposure. The problems with housing and high unemployment appear to have no end in sight. Nothing out of Congress or the White House suggests a change anytime soon either.

The Libor rate-fixing scandals could snapback and create exposures that may not appear on the radar for any given U.S. bank at this time. Considering the fact that the big U.S. banks are really big global banks means earnings may take hits for some time. Currently, we know Bank of America (BAC - Get Report), Citigroup (C - Get Report), and JPMorgan Chase (JPM - Get Report) possibly face exposure based on lawsuits that have been filed against them.

Because the banks have many of the problems built into the price, if the storm clouds do pass more quickly than expected (and they will pass at some point, they always do), the payoff could be huge. Banking offers the classic "heads I win, tails I break even" that investors search for. It's far from a sure thing, but when the odds are in your favor you want to exploit it for what you can.

In order to mitigate your risk exposure, take a look at writing covered calls. Writing covered calls will lower your total risk per share, pay you for each passing day as a result of time decay and increase the odds you will make money. The downside is you risk getting left behind if your stock really takes off higher.

This article isn't about hitting home runs, and more for those that want to bring home solid and consistent results. I selected November as my primary expiration month because the expiration date is after the election and gives time for the market to digest the results.

Some banks are better than others so let's take a look and see what we find.

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SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
SPY $211.65 0.23%
BAC $15.64 -0.32%
C $52.90 -0.60%
JPM $62.60 -0.32%
WFC $54.70 -0.29%

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DOW 18,080.14 +21.45 0.12%
S&P 500 2,117.69 +4.76 0.23%
NASDAQ 5,092.0850 +36.0220 0.71%

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