Stock market averages are under water on a relatively slow day of trading Wednesday. Steady trading across the Eurozone and strength in the euro set the table for steady trading on Wall Street. The only domestic economic stat of the day was the PPI for July, which was up .2 percent and .2 percent more than expected. Meanwhile, the earnings news was mixed. While DELL fell more than 9 percent after its profit forecast fell short of expectations, retailers Staples (SPLS) and Target (TGT) are seeing post-earnings gains. Overall, mixed news has resulted in sluggish and uninspired market action. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 9 points and the tech-heavy NASDAQ lost 15. CBOE Volatility Index (.VIX) slipped 1.13 to 31.72. Trading volume is respectable ahead of the expiration. 8 million calls and 9.4 million puts traded so far.
Research In Motion (RIMM), which rallied 10.4 percent Monday after Google (GOOG) made a cash bid for RIM rival Motorola Mobility (MMI), is down 52 cents to $26.41. The top options trade on the Blackberry-maker today is a 12000-contract block of Mar 24 puts sold at $3.20 per contract. The position looks opening and was tied to 396K shares at $26.15. 16,872 now traded vs. 6,501 in open interest. Separately, a block of 3,000 Oct 27 puts was bought at $3.40 and also appears to be opening activity. 13,564 changed hands against 964 in open interest. Implied volatility in RIMM has eased 1 percent to 73, as both put buyers and sellers are active in the name today.
Office Depot (ODP) adds 6 cents to $2.75 and a 10000-contract block of Jan 3 calls on the office supplies retailer is bought at 55 cents. It’s possibly closing (15000 opened on 8/9), as open interest is 15,144. Or, maybe bottom fishing after a 27.2 percent month-to-date loss in ODP. UBS upgraded the stock to Neutral from Sell today.
Zhongpin (HOGS) is down 19 cents to $8.52 and puts on the Chinese meat producer are seeing action again today. Volume is 23,000 contracts, which is 5X the norm and compares to 4,670 calls. Aug 7.5 puts, which are 11.9 percent OTM and expire at the end of the week, are the most actives. 11,110 traded. Aug 10 and Sep 7.5 puts are seeing interest as well. Implied volatility is up 7 percent and remains elevated at 123. The bearish flow appears to be in reacton to a negative blog (Seeking Alpha) article questioning the company's financials.
Implied volatility Mover
Eastman Kodak (EK) is up 48 cents to $2.62 and rallying today after Bloomberg wrote an article highlighting the value of Kodak’s patents. In options action, 15000 Jan 2 puts traded on EK at 40 cents per contract on ISE. It’s an opening customer seller, according to data from the exchange. August 2.5 puts, August 2.5 calls, Oct 3 calls, Oct 3.5 puts and Oct 4 puts are seeing interest as well. Implied volatility in Kodak options is up 14 percent today and remains elevated at 141.