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Election Wait and Tech Woes Keep Options Pros on the Sidelines

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Although stocks sunk and stunk

Monday, investor sentiment indicators weren't flashing clear signals on where traders think the market is headed.

What is clear, however, is that the agony of those still owning these stocks continues with few signs of a rush into protective put options.

"There's a lot of pain out there," said one Wall Street options trader, ticking off a laundry list of bad news for stocks, explaining the selloff. He also said that each time stocks tried to rally Monday morning, the attempts failed. That left the tech-heavy

Nasdaq 100

(QQQ) - Get Invesco QQQ Trust Report

unit trust, the QQQ, down $2.58 to $70.25 halfway through Monday's trading.

The trader said, however, that both stock and options volume was light overall.

Market sentiment indicators followed closely by stock and options market pros were giving off mixed signals. The overall equity put/call ratio was for the most part neutral, while the

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Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index

, better known as the VIX, has perked up, indicating a decent amount of anxiety among investors. Generally, the VIX rises when put buying on the

S&P 100


The overall equity put/call ratio was at 0.57 late in the morning, a reading which doesn't indicate people were giving up and rushing to buy put options. The 0.57 reading means that 57 puts -- which give put buyers the right but not the obligation to sell a stock at a certain price by a certain time -- traded for every 100 call options. Investors buy puts to either protect long positions or to speculate on a downdraft in the underlying security.

Contrarian traders like to see big bearish sentiment in the market before judging the market ready to rally. For example, extremely high readings on the VIX (although the VIX, which is based on options that trade on the S&P 100, has its detractors) help signal to contrarians that a market bottom could be close.

Rob Sorrentino of

Sorrentino Asset Management

, said investor activity was stalled by the wait on the Florida Supreme Court ruling on whether hand recounted ballots should count or not. The uncertainty over the presidential election has taken some of the blame for some of the market's recent troubles. Oral arguments before that state's high court are slated for this afternoon. The candidate who wins Florida will win the White House.

Sorrentino said he's not doing anything until after the Florida high court ruling is out, which he said should give a good indication of whether the election will be resolved quickly or if it is going to be a prolonged process.