As the market took a breather from its typical three-digit turns of fortune today, options traders continued to speculate on a


(MSFT) - Get Report

settlement of antitrust charges brought by the

Justice Department


As bidders pushed Microsoft stock up 1 13/16 to 105 7/8 at midday, speculators brazenly played the company's call options on the likely chance that a settlement will add some high-octane fuel to the shares. And with

news at midday that no verdict will be announced today and that the parties had been granted an additional 10 days to settle, this kind of action is likely to be replayed for the next two weeks.

While ample volume was coming into the deep in-the-money April call options at strike prices of 85 and 90, there was also big action further down the string. Buyers seemed to be targeting the April 105 and 110 calls with little reluctance to pay prices that grew ever steeper this morning.

The April 110 calls traded more than 15,000 contracts and jumped 1 ($100) to 4 7/8 ($487.50) and the April 105 volume reached a similar level, with the price of that play rising just 1 1/8 ($112.50) to 7 1/8 ($712.50) at midday.

While the 110s are a still a bit out of the money and relatively expensive, the number of contracts opened up at that level -- called open interest -- has grown to more than 41,000. That kind of pressure might well quickly pull in Microsoft shares if and when a settlement is reached.

The hire of former


president and

Sandy Weill

right-hand man

Jamie Dimon

is bringing all kinds of love to

Bank One

(ONE) - Get Report

for the second straight day.

On Monday, investors expected some kind of positive news and piled into Bank One call options, sending overall call volume to 13,731 from its daily average volume of 6,275, according to

McMillan Analysis


The Midwest bank's shares were up just 15/16 to 32 15/16 at midday, but that didn't stop call-buyers from snapping up the out-of-the-money May 35 calls on the chance Dimon's hire will bring some near-term strength to the shares.

Those May 35 calls traded more than 1,257 as the price jumped 5/16 ($31.25) to 1 1/2 ($150). The April 30 calls also traded heavily, with 1,500 contracts crossing the transom. That volume moved the price 1/2 ($50) to 2 11/16 ($268.75).