NEW YORK -- Fast money was the name of the game for bearish energy traders on Tuesday.
OptionMonster's Depth Charge program detected bearish activity in two of the sector's key names. Both option trades earned profits of more than 100% by the end of the session.
ConocoPhillips (COP) hit first, with heavy volume in the Weekly 72 puts expiring this Friday. They initially crossed for 31 cents to 45 cents but then climbed to $1.18 as COP pushed lower. More than 13,000 would trade by the end of the day, dwarfing the previous open interest of just 607 contracts.
Puts lock in the price where a stock can be sold, so they rise in value when shares decline. They can be used to speculate on a drop or to protect long positions. Their cheap initial cost can result in significant leverage on a%age basis.
Traders then turned to the SPDR Energy Fund (XLE) , snapping up the Weekly 86 puts expiring on Dec. 5 for 73 cents to 80 cents. Those would also double to $1.45. Almost 55,000 of those contracts traded overall, making them the busiest puts in the entire market Tuesday.
COP fell 2.18% to $71.13, and XLE declined 1.63% to $86.39. The drop followed a selloff in oil prices as investors prepared for a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna on Thursday. Crude-oil inventories at 10:30 a.m. EST on Wednesday could also affect the sector.
Total option was triple the daily average in both names. Puts outnumbered calls by 7 to 1 in COP and an even-more bearish 12-to-1 ratio in XLE.-- Written by David Russell of OptionMonster
Russell has no positions in COP or XLE.