Banks Are Open as Options Players Cash In Tech Stakes

Action in the options pits suggests the recent push into value names continues unabated.
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Technology stock options stepped into the spotlight Wednesday as the wild-and-wooly sector suffered through another selloff. Meanwhile, call buyers were showing an appetite for banks.

Gary Semeraro, options strategist at

SG Cowen

, said previous dips in tech have roused call buyers in the big-cap names. But Wednesday, some of those call buyers seemed to be out of the market, he said.

One West Coast trader said that there was very little activity in tech names and that it seemed "pretty quiet."

Not entirely quiet, however. With the

Nasdaq 100

unit trust down 3 to 94 3/4 and off a low of 92 33/64, some 19,034 April 114 puts had traded on the

American Stock Exchange

. The QQQ put contracts, which are in the money at these levels, were last at 21 ($2,100 per contract), up 3 1/2 ($350). On the call side, 16,880 of the QQQ April 95 call option contracts had traded. The calls were last at 4 1/4 ($425 per contract), down 1 5/8 ($162.50).

Semeraro noted that there seemed to be some call buyers in the financials, particularly money-center banks.

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

call options were active Wednesday. For the Citigroup May 65 calls, which are just out of the money, 1,413 contracts have traded on the

Chicago Board Options Exchange

. Last trade on the calls was at 3 3/8 ($337.50), up 11/16 ($68.75). Citigroup shares were up 1 3/8 to 64 13/16. Citigroup has also hit an all-time intraday high, peaking at 65 7/16.

Elsewhere in the money-center bank world,

Chase

(CMB)

call options were active. Chase May 95 calls, which are out of the money, were active, with 3,583 contracts trading on the CBOE. Last trade on the contracts was at 3 1/4 ($325 per contract), up 1 1/8 ($112.50). Shares of Chase were up 3 3/8 to 89 3/8.