With traders looking to exit positions before they go out worthless and time decay becoming more of a factor, expect volume in the options market to pick up approaching Friday's expiration. The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX), which is based on the implied volatility of the S&P 500 options and is used as a gauge for fear in the market, was recently up 5.7% to 14.28. The CBOE Nasdaq Volatility Index, a measure for the implied volatility of the Nasdaq 100, was down 0.3% to 15.53. The S&P Depositary Receipts ( SPY) were among the most actives. After a volatile day for equities Thursday, traders were aiming to capture a large move in the stock market by investing in the ETF, which is designed to mirror the movements of the S&P 500. The ETF was down 78 cents to $119. The October 120 calls have traded 10,900 contracts. Since the calls are out of the money, the buyer would be anticipating a large move in the S&P like the rally seen Thursday. The October 119 puts have traded 29,300 times. These puts are also out the money, meaning the buyer is expecting a selloff in the market before the expiration. eBay's ( EBAY) October options drew interest a day after the online auction site released disappointing guidance. The 40 calls have traded 17,700 times. The sellers of the calls are expecting the stock to close under $40 a share tomorrow. The calls were lower by $2.20. The October 40 puts have traded 23,800 contracts and were lower by 15 cents. Even though the stock is down, the put can trade lower because added premium was built in to the option price ahead of the earnings announcement and there was another day until the expiration. The more volatile a stock is, the more premium it will have. eBay shares were lower by $2.25, or 5.4%, to $39.76.
Citigroup ( C) had the October/November 42.50 call spread trade 17,000 times. Here, someone sold the October 42.50 calls and rolled the position forward by buying the November 42.50's. The stock was down 3 cents to $44.86. Pfizer ( PFE) had call sellers and put buyers after it released disappointing earnings and lowered its guidance. The October 22.50 calls have traded 11,500 contracts and were down $1.45. The calls currently trade for 5 cents since they're out of the money with one day left to expiration. The October 22.50 puts have traded 21,000 contracts and were up 35 cents. The November 22.50 calls traded 5,000 contracts, and the November 22.50 puts have been swapped 8,500 times. A little further out, the December 22.50 puts were exchanged 13,900 times, and about 14,000 of the January 25 calls traded. The stock was down $1.90, or 7.9%, to $22.07. Other stocks that had high option activity were Abgenix ( ABGX), J.P. Morgan ( JPM), and Apple Computer ( AAPL). Abgenix had the October 10 calls trade 12,500 times and the October 10 puts trade 17,000 contracts. The stock was up 71 cents, or 7.4%, to $10.32. J.P. Morgan's October 32.50 calls traded 5,100 contracts, and the October 35 calls changed hands 10,500 times. The stock was up 24 cents, or 0.7%, to $34.97. Apple's October 52.50 calls traded 12,100 contracts, and the October 55 calls traded 13,300 times. The stock was up $1.35, or 2.5%, to $56.29.