Option volatility retreated Friday as a stronger-than-expected reading on the U.S. gross domestic product pushed the stock market higher. 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 6.7% to 14.95. The CBOE Nasdaq Volatility Index, a measure of the implied volatility of the Nasdaq 100, was lower by 0.6% to 17.60. Apple Computer ( AAPL) options were among the most active, with traders concentrating on buying puts. The November 55 puts traded 5,600 times and were up 25 cents. The buyer of the puts is expecting downward pressure on the stock in the near term. The December 50 puts have traded 16,300 contracts, meaning the buyer expects the underlying stock to close below the strike by the expiration. The open interest for the strike coming into the session was 25,078 contracts. Apple shares were falling 39 cents, or 0.7% to $55.02. Ford ( F) had the December 7.50 puts trade more than 13,000 times. The open interest for the strike was 9,500 contracts. With the continued uncertainty surrounding the financial health of U.S. automakers, the buyer of the puts is expecting Ford's shares to fall beneath $7.50 by the expiration. The stock was down a penny at $8.03. Microsoft ( MSFT) options had activity a day after the software giant released its quarterly earnings. The November 25 calls changed hands 24,000 times, and the price was unchanged at 70 cents. The November 25 puts have traded 16,100 contracts and were down 45 cents. The January 27 calls traded 11,000 times. With the stock up 53 cents, or 2.1%, to $25.38, most of the puts are trading much lower. The premium built into the puts prior to the earnings release has been taken out.
Qualcomm ( QCOM) options kept traders busy after competitors filed antitrust complaints against the company with European regulators. The November 42.50 calls were swapped 6,400 times and were down 95 cents. The November 40 puts were exchanged 8,300 times and rose 70 cents. Meanwhile, 5,000 contracts on the November 42.50 puts traded, and the January 37.50 calls traded 5,300 times, falling $1.70 in price. The seller of the 37.50 calls is expecting the stock to trade below that level by January's expiration. Shares of Qualcomm were off $2.13, or 5%, to $40.92. Other stocks that had high option activity were Cendant ( CD), Broadcom ( BRCM) and Biogen Idec ( BIIB). Cendant's May 22.50 calls traded 5,000 contracts, and the stock was down 6 cents to $17.43. Broadcom's November 45 calls traded 4,800 times, while the shares slipped 94 cents, or 2.3%, to $40.37. Biogen Idec's January 40 calls traded 7,500 contracts. The stock was up 29 cents, or 0.7%, at $38.64. To view Mike Marino's video take on today's option action,
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