Some options traders expressed a bit of surprise at the continuing drop in implied volatility levels in the market, considering the announcement of the results of the
Federal Open Market Committee meeting are expected at 2:15 p.m. EDT today.
One market-maker on the
said implied volatility -- the market's measure of how much a stock or index is able to move -- was dropping, as market participants sold options, particularly in some big-cap technology names. "There's no fear in selling this juice," the market-maker said.
The market-maker said he thought the implied volatility levels for July and August options were unusually low, though October and January implied volatility measures haven't gone down too much. Implied volatility is the annualized measure of how much the market thinks a stock or index can potentially move and is a critical factor in an option's price. High implied volatility will result in higher options prices.
Overall activity in the market was light ahead of the results of the FOMC meeting.
"We've got a dead calm before the meeting," said money manager Dave Schultz of
Summit Capital Holdings
If you look at the charts for two weeks, the market's been flat, Schultz said. He added that Wednesday is a decision point day. Despite the consensus that the
Fed isn't going to do anything as far as interest rates, people aren't willing to put money to work in stocks or options until after the results of the get-together are released, he noted.
Wednesday's slump in volume is part a function of players not willing to make any big wagers ahead of the results of the Fed meeting, but the decline in options volume overall has been notable for about the past couple of months. Schultz pointed to a couple of reasons for the decline in options activity. For one, "the momentum players are just gone," scared out of the market by the huge downdraft in March and April. "They got completely blasted," Schultz said.
Also hurting volume is the fact that the market has been "just flat as a pancake." Schultz said the easy money has been in writing covered calls and in selling puts, particularly in the biotech sector, which has been on fire.
Options sellers typically do well in this climate because they take in money for selling out-of-the-money options that expire worthless with huge swings in the market.
Members of the
Chicago Board of Trade
are voting Wednesday on the first part of its proposed restructuring plan, news of which ignited the fury of the
Chicago Board Options Exchange
earlier this month.
wrote about the situation in stories
Results of the vote will probably be announced after 5 p.m. EDT, the CBOT said.
The question CBOT members face is whether or not to reincorporate the exchange in Delaware instead of its current home in Illinois. The first vote needs a two-thirds majority.
The CBOT restructuring plan calls for the exchange to convert itself into two for-profit businesses: One business would continue as an open-outcry market operation (a trading method where traders shout out their buy or sell orders), while the other would be an electronic trading concern.
The CBOE, the world's largest options exchange, and CBOT have been involved in merger talks since earlier this year. The talks between the CBOE and the CBOT, a futures exchange, in part grew out of an effort to resolve the issue of trading rights between the two exchanges.
Full CBOT members also have an exercise right to trade on the CBOE. All full CBOT members have exercise rights whereby they can trade on the CBOE and vote on the CBOE by simply exercising those rights. The CBOE believes that the CBOT restructuring plan would kill those rights.