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US Airways Options Cause 'Panic in the Pits'

Tiger Management has been making headlines today for its stake in US Airways, causing chaos in the options world.

There were blocks upon blocks, but no clear building theme emerged Monday in options trading.

A large institutional investor in



options crossed a massive trade -- over 16,000 contracts -- via the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange

on Monday morning. One person at the exchange said only that the investor was "located somewhere north of New York and south of Boston."

The person added, "The trade was probably agreed upon between two big firms before it hit the floor. We don't know if they bought them as a hedge against a big block of stock, or if they know something we don't."

The August 7 1/2 puts crossed at 3 1/2 ($350) per contract. Open interest totaled 66,479 contracts. The stock was unchanged at 4.

From the "out of the blue" department, an investor in

TMP Worldwide


opened a new position in August 45 puts with 500 contracts compared with what was previously no open interest. The price was 2 1/2 ($250), up 3/8 ($37.50) per contract; the stock, meanwhile, was up 9/16 to 47 1/2.

TMP Worldwide owns the

, an online job-search site.

Meanwhile, the most-actives list saw some veteran names resurface. Among them were

Sealed Air


, which makes protective and specialty packaging materials and systems, such as foam-in-place packaging, bubble cushioning and absorbent meat pads.

October 55 puts lost nearly half of their value, down 1 ($100) to 1 1/4 ($125) per contract on volume of 1,000, equal to the open interest.

By the way, Sealed Air earlier this year was listed as one of hedge fund

Tiger Management's

key holdings. The giant fund was in the headlines today for filing with regulators regarding its stake in

US Airways


. Tiger and its Wall Street legendary manager Julian Robertson said they're urging management to consider options such as a merger, sale or recapitalization.

"It's panic in the pits over US Air options," said Paul Foster with

in Chicago. "Who knows, though, if they're just manipulating US Air shareholders by putting the idea out there. It could be Tiger has capital constraints, what with them holding 22% of the company and the stock down from 50 to 37 in the past few weeks. Could be Tiger is choking hard." (

reported on the

news earlier today.)

US Airways stock jumped on the news, up 3 to 38 5/8 on heavy volume. The August 50 calls, which most probably thought long dead with expiration two weeks away, showed a little life, up 1/16 ($6.25) to 1/8 ($12.50). Most actively traded were the August 35 calls, up 1 1/4 ($125) to 3 1/4 ($325) on volume of 254 contracts and open interest of 142.