While the direction of the tech sector was clearly on the buy side in the overall market Thursday, options traders were sending more mixed signals.
Early this afternoon, the tech-loaded
Nasdaq Composite Index
had shaken off some morning weakness and was soaring. For the first time this week, the Nasdaq Comp was in the green, up nearly 3%.
Options players, however, said there wasn't much direction as far as flow in the market between put- and call-buying. The speculators who often play that market seemed unable to decide where they thought the market was headed.
"It's pretty choppy," said Pat Hickey, principal with
Pacific Stock Exchange
. Hickey said the action in options was "pretty evenly split" on the put-buying and call-buying side, with individual bargain-hunters buying calls and institutional investors leaning more toward the put side as insurance.
Joe Sunderman, manager of research at
Schaeffer's Investment Research
, an options trading and research firm in Cincinnati, said one thing he's looking at is the 90 strike price on the
Nasdaq 100 unit trust
, better known as the QQQ, which could be a possible support level.
Sunderman pointed out that the April 90 puts, which have traded 7,568 contracts Thursday, were trading down 1 3/4 ($175) to 2 ($200 per contract). Open interest in that option as of yesterday stood at 22,410, a level of interest that shows it as a focal point of traders.
The QQQ was up 2 1/4 to 94 5/8.