This column was originally published on RealMoney on May 15 at 11:05 a.m. EDT. It's being republished as a bonus for readers.

We had some follow-through selling this morning, but so far it is fairly well contained. However, commodities in general, and metals and energy-related issues in particular, are getting walloped. So it's no surprise their options came out of the gate on top of the most-active list.

Oil Services HOLDRs

(OIH) - Get Report

have seen 1,600 of the July $140 puts trade thus far.


Energy Select Spyder

(XLE) - Get Report

May $57 line is most active with over 5,700 calls and 2,000 puts traded thus far. Both of these ETFs have seen an uptick in implied volatility.

Spillover from lower gas and oil prices seems to be hitting some of the other energy names, including coal stock

Arch Coal

(ACI) - Get Report

and alternative energy stocks

Energy Conversion Devices

( ENER) and


(BLDP) - Get Report

. All three names are down over 3% so far. Ethanol plays such as

Archer Daniels

(ADM) - Get Report



(BG) - Get Report

are also lower this morning and are seeing above average option activity and a rise in implied volatility.

Gold producer

Newmont Mining

(NEM) - Get Report

and copper company

Phelps Dodge

( PD) are also sharply lower and seeing above average put volume.

Is the takeaway that a slight dip in oil prices means we no longer have to consider alternative energy sources? Or is it that we discovered a level on the price/demand curve that will grind economies to a halt? Or is this simply a bit of liquidation of commodity positions by hedge and other speculators?

Probably a combination of the all three (and some other forces I'm not even aware of).

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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