Tech stocks, energy issues and names in the headlines like Cablevision ( CVC) were among the most actively traded options Tuesday. 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 0.6% to 14.83. The CBOE Nasdaq Volatility Index, a measure of the implied volatility of the Nasdaq 100, was climbing 1.5% to 15.47. November options in Guidant ( GDT) were heavily traded as investors awaited a vote by the Federal Trade Commission on the company's planned acquisition by Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ). The November 65 calls have traded 15,300 times and were down 20 cents. Traders swapped 8,000 contracts on the November 70 calls, and the November 65 puts traded 3,200 times. J&J has offered to buy Guidant for $76 a share. However, because Guidant had a series of device recalls earlier this year, J&J said last week that it would consider alternatives to the merger pact. Guidant was down 55 cents, or 0.9%, to $64.37. Cablevision ( CVC) saw more than 16,000 of the January 2007 calls striking at 30 trade after the company said the controlling Dolan family backed out of a plan to take it private. The news pressured the stock, and in this case the call seller doesn't expect Cablevision's shares to trade above $30 by the expiration. The open interest for the strike prior to the trade was 20,972 contracts. Shares of Cablevision were off $3.64, or 13.1%, to $24.16. Drugmaker Pfizer ( PFE) had bullish call buying in its December and January options. The December 25 calls have traded 8,500 times, and the January 25 calls changed hands 7,200 times. With Pfizer trading up 8 cents at $21.17, the calls are out of the money. Here, the buyer is anticipating a large move up in the stock in the coming months.
Texas Instruments ( TXN) options were active a day after the company's earnings report. The calls were trading much lower on the stock's decline. Approaching an earnings release, options are usually priced higher to anticipate a large move in the stock. With the earnings now past, the premium priced into the calls has been taken out. The November 30 calls have traded 5,800 times and were lower by $1.50. The November 32.50 calls have traded 3,800 contracts and were lower by 60 cents, and the November 30 puts were swapped 6,000 times and rose 60 cents. The stock was down $2.08, or 6.7%, to $28.84. A rise in oil brought out call buyers in Valero Energy ( VLO). Most options on energy stocks have a higher implied volatility because oil prices have been swinging widely. The November 100 calls have traded 7,200 contracts and were up $1.60. The November 95 calls traded 3,700 times and rose $2.20. The stock was up $2.41, or 2.5%, to $100.16. Other stocks that have had busy sessions were Apple Computer ( AAPL), U.S. Steel ( X) and Lucent ( LU). Apple's November 55 puts traded 8,900 times and were higher by 15 cents. The stock was down 87 cents, or 1.5%, to $55.92. U.S. Steel's November 40 calls traded 5,400 contracts, and the November 35 was exchanged 4,600 times. The stock was down 21 cents, or 0.6%, to $36.14. Lucent had the January 2007 2.50 calls trade 5,000 times. The stock was down 2 cents to $3.14.