As if Mondays weren't bad enough, this particular Monday is even ruder for investors still long equities. And there was little relief in sight.
With the market swooning Monday, some options pros pointed out that there wasn't a big rush to enter the market to make bets that stocks have reached a bottom.
Pat Hickey, principal at
, said the selling was indiscriminate Monday, although he said it wasn't like a "crash-type" selloff. He noted, however, that the selling was more aggressive than last week.
Options action was weighted to the put side on the
Nasdaq 100 unit trust
The QQQ broke through its April intraday low Monday morning, trading as low as 75 37/64 before bouncing to around 77 1/2, down 4 3/16 to midday. Implied volatility on the QQQ, meanwhile, has perked up Monday after decreasing last week after the
Federal Open Market Committee
raised short-term interest rates.
Implied volatility on the QQQ for the June 77 puts was 65, while for the calls it was 67, said Paul Foster of
in Chicago. 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 levels make for more expensive options, and reflect the market's general belief that a drastic move is possible.
The vast majority of the trading in options on the QQQ was in June, as traders stuck to short-term plays, unwilling to make large wagers further out. One anomaly, however, was the nearly 6,300 December 80 puts that traded this morning. The contracts were trading at 12 5/8 ($1,265.50), up 2 1/2 ($250).
"It sure looks ugly right now," said Rod Jamieson, vice president of options at
First Union Securities
in Chicago. He said it didn't look like there was a rush to step up and buy. Jamieson said he thinks the market will be sloppy until the middle of June, with the thinking going that perhaps by then the
will be done raising rates, in part because it is a presidential election year.
Traders still were doing a bit of nibbling on
call options Monday as its stock dropped amid a broad selloff in the market as the stock slipped 5/16 to 24 3/16. The June 25 calls on the
Chicago Board Options Exchange
were garnering interest with 1,040 contracts trading for around 1 3/16 ($118.75), down 7/16 ($43.75).
Minneapolis-based US Bancorp has been rumored as a takeover target lately.
in a story
could be readying a takeover of a large Midwestern bank. Among Firstar's potential targets mentioned in the story: US Bancorp.
Foster said implied volatility on the options was above normal. Implied volatility on the June 25 calls was 63, while it was 59 for the puts, he said. The average implied volatility over the last month has been 55, he said.
, arguably not one of the best-known Internet service providers, has seen options activity perk up over the past couple of sessions.
OneMain.com's average daily options volume is a paltry 23 contracts, according to
. On Friday, 645 contracts traded, with 638 of those contracts being call options, McMillan noted.
Implied volatility was also high on OneMain.com, according to McMillan.
The company's stock also picked up some upside juice Friday. After closing Thursday at 5 5/8, it surged Friday to close at 6 5/32. It was trading up 3/32 to 6 1/4. OneMain.com, based in Reston, Va., is an Internet service provider, which serves mainly small metropolitan and rural communities.
On Friday, 385 June 5 calls traded, compared to open interest of 180 contracts. Open interest is the number of contracts in existence. Meanwhile, 225 of the June 7 1/2 calls traded, compared to open interest of 180.
Monday, options on the company's stock were active, by OneMain.com standards, with a little more than 100 contracts changing hands, all on the call side. Most active were the June 5 calls on the P-Coast, where 51 contracts have traded. The June 5 calls were trading at 1 3/4 ($175), up 1/16 ($6.25).