Exactly three weeks ago today, I thought I would break some news on an intraday basis with a post that I titled, Record VIX Options Volume and Large Purchases of VIX Calls. As it turns out, by the time the day’s total volume was tallied, February 26th turned out to be an all-time record for VIX options volume in general and VIX calls in particular.
The events of three weeks ago now look a little less impressive in light of today’s new record in VIX call volume. Truth be told, VIX options seem to be attracting the attention of a new group of investors. In fact, during the CBOE Risk Management Conference earlier this month, there was a great deal of speculation surrounding who some of the new players in the VIX space might be that are responsible for the new growth in VIX futures and VIX options that appears to be independent of the volume driven by VIX ETPs. [Hedge funds, proprietary trading firms, commodity trading pools/advisors, insurance companies, bond traders, FX traders and others were among the names that were bandied about…]
As is typically the case with the VIX, call volume outpaced put volume by a substantial margin. Today the call to put ratio was about 2.2 to 1, slightly higher than the average of 1.9 to 1. That being said, put buyers appeared to be a little more aggressive than call buyers, with 42% of all puts bought on the ask, as opposed to 30% of the calls, according to data provided by LivevolPro.
Investors are always looking for an interpretive overlay for these VIX options transactions. Frankly, on the day before the March VIX expiration, a great deal of the options activity is the result of large investors closing out March positions or attempting to game the special opening quotation (VIX SOQ) from tomorrow’s open that establishes the settlement price for VIX options and futures. As a result of that low signal to noise ratio, the day prior to expiration is generally not a productive time for reading options entrails, though there will no doubt be some who are hell-bent on some sort of options divination regardless of where we are in the VIX expiration cycle. For today at least, I would suggest that the links below might bear more fruit.
Disclosure(s): Livevol and the CBOE are advertisers on VIX and More