Activity in the option market was on the light side Monday as traders eased back in to work after the October 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 down 5.9% to 15.18. The CBOE Nasdaq Volatility Index, a measure for the implied volatility of the Nasdaq 100, was recently down 0.7% to 15.71. November options in the iShares Russell 2000 Index ( IWM) drew interest. The November 58 puts have traded 15,500 times, which is about half the open interest for that strike. Since the puts are out of the money, the buyer might be looking for protection against a large downside move in the ETF. The Russell iShares will move in tandem with the Russell 2000 Index. The November 67 calls have traded 10,200 times. The buyer of these out-of-the-money calls is hoping to participate in an upward move of the underlying index and expects the ETF to close about $67 a share by the Nov. 18 expiration. The ETF was up 81 cents, or 1.3%, to $63.83. Amazon.com ( AMZN) had notable activity ahead of its earnings release set for Tuesday. The November 47.50 calls changed hands 2,700 times and were up almost 40 cents. At the same time, the November 40 puts traded more than 7,400 contracts. The open interest for the strike was 4,918 contracts. The November 45 puts have traded 3,700 times and were down 15 cents on the day. Amazon shares were higher by 56 cents, or 1.2%, to $46.51. Albertson's ( ABS) had a buyer of the November 25 calls more than 9,200 times after reports emerged that supermarket giant Kroger ( KR) has joined in the bidding war for the Idaho-based grocery chain. Albertson's shares were up $1.26, or 5.2%, to $25.32.
The January 22.50 calls on Novellus Systems ( NVLS) traded 4,900 contracts. The buyer of the calls expects Novellus' stock to trade above the strike by the January expiration. The stock was down 11 cents to $21.81. Other active options included Cisco Systems ( CSCO), Schering-Plough ( SGP) and Microsoft ( MSFT). Cisco's November 17.50 calls traded 6,800 times and were lower by 5 cents. The stock was up 4 cents to $17.07. Schering-Plough's November 20 puts traded 6,700 contracts and fell 20 cents. The stock was up 4 cents to $21.15. Meanwhile, Microsoft had the November 25 calls trade 6,600 times. The stock was 18 cents, or 0.7%, to $24.96.