warnings and rumors of profit shortfalls in part have conspired lately to make being long technology stocks as fun as sinusitis.
And that sneezing has carried over into the options market, which is showing equally few encouraging signals, according to some stock and options market players. At midday Wednesday, however, some options traders said it looked like the tech stock selloff has subsided for the time being.
"I'm not calling a bottom, but I do think we're late in the selling," said Jordan Kahn of
Kahn Asset Management
While some key options market indicators are improving, as far as signaling that the discomfort may soon be over, they're not screaming buy just yet. The
Chicago Board Options Exchange
equity put/call ratio, a closely watched options market indicator, advanced Wednesday, but not enough for some.
The CBOE put/call ratio was at 0.74, up from a close of 0.70 Tuesday. It had risen into the 80s earlier in the session. The overall options market put/call ratio chimed in at 0.78 at midday, after rising as high as 0.81.
Kahn said he'd like to see the put/call ratio at 0.90 or above for more than a day, "just to signal that there's some fear out there."
Before this week, Kahn said one of the things that encouraged him about the market's performance was that the lows the market had logged in previous months, were higher lows.
Of course, this week, that changed. The
, for example, has plunged this week to levels not seen since May. On Wednesday, the NDX, after trading down as low as 3291.61, reversed and was up 4.98 to 3358.32.
As for earnings warnings Wednesday, among the prominent confessors were
, the prominent Nasdaq
Knight was off $6.06, or 18.8%, to $26.13. Options action in Knight was relatively robust, with much of the action in the front-month October options on the put side.
On the CBOE, 2,113 of the out-of-the-money October 25 puts changed hands, up 1 1/8 ($112.50) to 1 3/8 ($137.50). It is likely investors were selling the puts on the belief that by expiration, which occurs on Oct. 20, shares of Knight will be trading above the 25 strike price and the put options will expire worthless and the investor will keep the premium taken in for selling them.
Meantime, a lot of the trading in options on software company
was skewed to the put side, some market observers noted. Shares of the software firm tumbled $6, or 8.6%, to $63.50 after
downgraded the stock.
Among the popular Oracle options in trading Wednesday, the October 70 puts has seen decent volume, with a little more than 2,400 contracts trading at the CBOE. The puts were up 4 ($400) to 8 1/2 ($850).
All was not bleak. One options trader at a Wall Street shop said that people were starting to cover their short positions.
After sporadic deal chatter and speculation surrounding
which has bounced around for quite some time, the Minneapolis-based bank is finally being
Recently, U.S. Bancorp's options play had again come to the fore of some options market analysts' attention. Shares of U.S. Bancorp added 25 cents to $23.44.
is buying U.S. Bancorp in a deal valued at around $21 billion.