X – United States Steel Corp. – Unconfirmed rumors that ArcelorMittal may be interested in buying U.S. Steel at $80.00 per share inspired an all-out options feeding frenzy on the Pittsburgh, PA-based steel producer. U.S. Steel’s shares rallied as much as 6.7% in the first half of the trading session to reach an intraday high of $50.50 as of 11:50 am ET. The churning of the rumor mill, increased demand for the steel maker’s options and the significant move in the price of the underlying stock lifted the overall reading of options implied volatility on U.S. Steel 20.1% to 55.54% just before noon in New York trading. Call options on the stock are the clear favorite today and are changing hands 3.6 times for each single put option in play with investors exchanging nearly 200,000 contracts on U.S. Steel by 12:15 pm ET. Investors initiating bullish stances purchased in- and out-of-the-money call options and sold out-of-the-money puts. The August $50 strike, which currently has volume of 21,200 calls, is the most popular as of early afternoon. At least 9,800 of those call options were purchased for an average premium of $0.82 per contract. Traders positioning for U.S. Steel’s shares to continue higher ahead of Friday’s expiration picked up at least 4,300 calls at the August $55 strike for an average premium of $0.46 each. Another 3,500 calls were coveted at the August $60 strike, while some 3,000 call options were purchased at the August $65 strike price. Investors may or may not intend to hold these positions overnight. It will be interesting to see, by examining changes in open interest at these strikes tomorrow, whether traders are buying into the rumors rather than initiating intraday transactions to take advantage of the feeding frenzy while it lasts. Options traders holding the August $50 strike calls may profit if U.S. Steel’s shares rally above the average breakeven price of $50.82 ahead of expiration in a couple of days. Finally, September $55 strike calls were the hot-ticket item in that expiry. As of 12:30 pm ET, more than 11,700 calls changed hands at that strike, with at least 4,500 of those contracts purchased by investors at an average premium of $1.37 each. Traders long the calls make money if the price of the underlying stock jumps 11.6% over today’s high of $50.50 to surpass the average breakeven price of $56.37 by September expiration.
Affiliation: Interactive Brokers
Andrew Wilkinson is the senior market analyst at Interactive Brokers Group, where he provides daily commentary and analysis on U.S. equity options trading throughout the trading day. Andrew provides webinars designed to explain option-related trading scenarios covering futures, fixed income, forex and equities.
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