The Amsterdam Exchange is launching options on U.S. shares Cisco ( CSCO), Intel ( INTC) and Microsoft ( MSFT) starting March 7.

Volatility Index
Today % Change
25.29 +2.76
Source: ILX

The AEX, Europe's oldest exchange, will also begin trading options on Finland's Nokia and Germany's Deutsche Telekom, Deutsche Bank and DaimlerChrysler, according to Raymond Salet, spokesman for the exchange.

Put/Call Ratio
Today (Noon) Previous Close
0.41 0.43
Source: ILX
"We did an inquiry with Dutch retail investors about what kinds of foreign stocks they have in portfolios. The most popular were these, so we thought it would be a good idea to trade options on them," he said. The AEX tried to launch a similar program roughly 20 years ago and "it wasn't a success. But these days, with the Internet, mobile phones and the wires, people have much more easy access to information. And the target for these options is Dutch investors."

The step, though small, is another in the progression toward more global markets, and the development of Europe's electronic markets in other countries will help push that along.

The Amsterdam stock and derivatives market, which will celebrate its 400-year anniversary in 2002, is generally recognized as the oldest in the world. The options trading floor there is the same as the traditional, open-outcry Chicago Board Options Exchange, the largest in the world both in trading volume and sheer size.

The AEX has at least one American market maker operating on the trading floor, Susquehanna of Bala Cynwyd, Pa. However, the AEX spokesman said he didn't know whether it was designated to trade the U.S. stock options in Amsterdam. A Susquehanna spokesman said he wasn't immediately able to comment on the firm's operations on that exchange.

So, the tulip dealers finally got their hands on options. Now they'll face new challenges: "The main issue in trading is the credibility of their clearing operation. All they're doing is trading an option on a different underlying stock. They just have to make sure they have the ability to deliver the exchange the underlying stocks of Intel and Microsoft and Cisco," said Jim Bittman, senior instructor with the CBOE's Options Institute in Chicago and author of Options for the Stock Investor .

Trading in the Philadelphia Stock Exchange Oil Services Index picked up some momentum Wednesday, trading roughly 65,000 contracts by midday.

The biggest trade was a 25,000-contract "roll" out of the March 65 call options further out in time to the September 65 series. In other words, the institution or investor rotated out of the March calls, at a price of 28 ($2,800), to finance a position in the September calls at a price of 33 5/8 ($3,362.50).

Susquehanna recently became the market maker for the OSX options on the PHLX and handled the trades. The firm also crossed another 9,000 OSX March 80 calls and 7,000 in the March 90 calls at prices of 14 1/8 ($1,412.50) and 7 3/8 ($737.50), respectively, according to a trading floor source.

The OSX was trading at 92.45, down 0.38.