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All Quiet on the Options Front

GM's the most active strike.

This was originally published on RealMoney at 10:28 a.m. EST.

So far it's pretty quiet. I believe much of the options-related activity was completed on Wednesday and Thursday. If the S&P 100 Index (OEX) can climb above 595, it could trigger small buy programs, because that strike still has more than 14,000 calls still open.

After Thursday's inexplicable rise, the VIX is back below 12 this morning. The equity-only put/call ratio is running around 0.58. People still are wondering about Thursday's extremely low put/call ratio.

Again, this was skewed by the massive call volume in the


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in a dividend play. If you back out the SPY volume, Thursday's equity-only reading was a much more neutral 0.62.

And as is usually the case, that dividend play was a whole lot of energy for nothing. There were more than 4 million March calls traded Thursday; prior open interest was about 500,000 contracts. This morning, the open interest is down to about 400 contracts for the in-the-money strikes that were involved; meaning most people remembered to exercise. This translates into less than 0.001% chance of going unassigned and collecting the 52-cent dividend. Factor in transaction costs and assignment fees, and most people end up losing money on the trade.

Leading the most active list is

Energy Select SPDR

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, because more than 10,000 of list June $52 puts have traded this far.

General Motors'

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January '07 $10 put has traded 7,500 contracts. The strike has open interest of more than 500,000, so this is not a tremendous volume, but it is the most active strike.

Steven Smith writes regularly for In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He was a seatholding member of the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) from May 1989 to August 1995. During that six-year period, he traded multiple markets for his own personal account and acted as an executing broker for third-party accounts. He appreciates your feedback;

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