Options market sentiment indicators were giving off some mixed signals Thursday as an early rally in the
The NDX dropped 15.74 to 2393.92, after trading as high as 2464.19 intraday. A range of sentiment gauges were giving different signs, some giving off bullish whiffs while others were telling tales of too much complacency, at least according to some options pros with decidedly contrarian bents.
One sentiment indicator has left some options market participants flabbergasted. The latest
survey data continue to show a huge amount of optimism, which from a contrarian standpoint is pretty bearish. The percentage of bulls in the latest
poll of financial advisers at 61.8%, up from last week's reading of 61%.
Jay Shartsis, options strategist at
in New York, who bemoaned
last week's reading of bulls in the survey, was floored again today by the numbers.
"It's astounding," said Shartsis, who said he expected the number of bulls in the
survey to go down this week. He did say that the level of bullishness is explainable a little, perhaps due to the fact that the
New York Composite Index
Value Line Index
are trading around their highs. And then there's the
Federal Reserve, too. "All the bulls want to hang their hats on the Fed saving their lives," he said.
Short term, the market could have some upside in it, thanks partly to the fact that despite a drubbing in tech yesterday, the advance/decline line on the
New York Stock Exchange
closed with winners beating losers.
Also encouraging for a near-term advance by the market is that there's been a high amount of
put buying today, Shartsis said. The
Chicago Board Options Exchange
equity put/call ratio was at 0.77, the highest it has been for several weeks. It closed Wednesday at 0.52.
has been highlighted lately by heavy
call selling in February options.
Shares of Sun fell 38 cents to $26.19.
Recently there's been a lot of selling of February call options at various strike prices, showing that investors think the tech giant won't move much higher by Feb.16, when the options expire. The call selling was reminiscent of action seen in Sun options in January, when a major investment bank had been a heavy seller of call options. The same investment bank is also the big seller this time around, too.
Selling call options is a mildly bearish strategy. Investors sell calls on the hope that the options will expire worthless, or below the
Call selling has been heavy recently in the February 35, 32 1/2 and 30 strike prices. It was unclear whether or not the selling was related to selling on behalf of clients with large stock positions in Sun or not.
As for action today, there's been buying of the March 30 calls, said Dan Brady of
, the lead market maker for Sun options at the
As for the March 30 calls, the options were off 1/4 ($25) to 15/16 ($93.75) after trading as high as 1 3/8 ($137.50) today at the P-Coast on volume of 2,671 contracts. Consolidated volume in the March 30 calls totaled nearly 5,800 contracts.