Some observers think an early summer slowdown is creeping into the options market as a string of quiet days has marked the tone of trading over the past week.
On an otherwise quiet day in technology stock options, traders took note of a very large option trade on
by one institution. The move involved buying January 2003 30 calls and selling January 2002 30 calls, also known as "rolling" a call.
On the surface, the size and nature of the trade would indicate a somewhat bullish stance on Cisco. But some traders cautioned against jumping to conclusions. "It's hard to tell because you don't know
the firm's original position. It's a pretty big spread," said Ross Kaminsky, a managing member at
, noting the large time frame on the contract.
James Quinn, a specialist at
who focuses on Cisco, said the move was "a big trade on a slow day." On the lack of activity in options trading today, Quinn says a late summer slowdown last year "caught a lot of people off guard," and added that some investors are probably trying to protect themselves until the tone of the market improves.
Outside of tech stocks, insurance stocks were getting some attention in the wake of
$23 billion deal to acquire
. "Volatility in AIG options is driving a spread in the premium," said Marc Brown, principal at
, referring to the cost of option contracts on the stock.
Traders said a collar on AIG's stock price, which is a condition of the deal, made it somewhat more difficult to gauge the outlook for options on both stocks.