Ahead of the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline, new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson touted a "pathway to a possible deal" to leave the European Union (EU). Against this backdrop, stocks in the U.K. skyrocketed today -- and the iShares MSCI United Kingdom ETF (EWU) is pacing for its best day since 2016 -- including several big banks. In fact, Lloyds Banking Group PLC (NYSE:LYG), Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (NYSE:RBS), and Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS) are among the best stocks on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) today, with LYG, RBS, and BCS all seeing white-hot options volume.
LYG Call Options Volume Skyrockets
Lloyds Banking Group shares are up 12.1% at $2.92, set for their best session since February 2016. The stock is also set to take out its 200-day moving average for the first time since May, and has rebounded close to 27% since touching a seven-year low of $2.30 in mid-August.
Meanwhile, more than 8,100 LYG call options have traded so far -- nine times the average intraday pace -- compared to fewer than 80 put options. Daily call volume is pacing for the 99th percentile of its annual range.
It looks like one trader is bracing for more upside for LYG after the Brexit deadline, buying to open a block of more than 2,100 November 3 calls for 15 cents apiece. As such, the buyer's profits will grow the higher the equity rises north of $3.15 (strike plus premium paid) by options expiration on Friday, Nov. 15.
RBS Stock Eyes Best Day in Years
Royal Bank of Scotland stock is up 11.7% at $5.52, set for its biggest one-day percentage gain in eight years. In addition, RBS stock volume is pacing for an annual high. The security earlier peaked at $5.78, right around its 160-day moving average. This trendline ushered RBS lower through most of 2018, and hasn't been toppled on a daily closing basis since April. Since touching a two-year low of $4.33 on Aug. 15, the stock has bounced 27%.
Although absolute volume remains relatively light, nearly 1,350 RBS call options have traded so far -- 14 times the average afternoon pace. That's compared to just 193 put options traded, which is still nine times the norm.
Once again, it looks like options traders are expecting more gains for Royal Bank of Scotland shares after the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline. The November 6 call is most popular today, buyers of which expect the security to reclaim the $6 level before options expiration.
Barclays Stock Volume Set for Annual High
Finally, Barclays stock is up 8.4% at $8.03, set for its best session since February 2013 and annual-high stock volume. In addition, BCS shares are eyeing their first close above the 200-day moving average since June 2018, back when the equity was trading in double-digit territory. Since falling to $6.55 on Aug. 28 -- its lowest point since the March 2009 bottom -- BCS has advanced close to 23%.
Already today, the security has seen more than 7,500 call options traded -- a whopping 27 times the average intraday pace. To put it even more in perspective, Barclays averages daily call volume of fewer than 400 contracts. On the flip side, around 4,300 puts have traded thus far -- twice the norm.
Most popular is the October 8 put, which accounts for more than 3,300 of the total BCS puts traded today. Buyers of the put expect the British banking stock to retreat beneath the $8 level by the close next Friday, Oct. 18, when front-month options expire. Meanwhile, bulls are circling the November 8 call -- the second-most active option thus far -- hoping for more upside after the Brexit deadline.