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On Thursday, shares of Axis Capital Holdings (NYSE: AXS) saw unusual options activity. After the option alert, the stock price moved down to $45.97.
Option Type: SWEEP
Trade Type: PUT
Expiration Date: 2020-09-18
Strike Price: $45.00
Open Interest: 1277
3 Signs of Unusual Options Activity
Extraordinarily large volume is one indication of unusual options activity. Volume refers to the total shares contracts traded in a day when discussing options activity. Unsettled contracts that have been traded, but not yet closed, are called open interest. These contracts are not closed because a buyer has not purchased a contract, or a seller has not sold it.
Another gauge of unusual options activity is a contract with an expiration date in the distant future. Additional time until a contract expires generally increases the potential for it to grow its time value and reach its strike price. It is important to consider time value because it represents the difference between the strike price and the value of the underlying asset.
“Out of the money” contracts are unusual because they are purchased with a strike price far from the underlying asset price. “Out of the money” occurs when the underlying price is under the strike price on a call option, or above the strike price on a put option. Buyers and sellers try to take advantage of a large profit margin in these instances because they are expecting the value of the underlying asset to change dramatically in the future.
Options are “bullish” when a call is purchased at/near ask price or a put is sold at/near bid price. Options are “bearish” when a call is sold at/near bid price or a put is bought at/near ask price.
Although the activity is suggestive of these strategies, these observations are made without knowing the investor’s true intentions when purchasing these options contracts. An observer cannot be sure if the bettor is playing the contract outright or if they’re hedging a large underlying position in a common stock. For the latter case, the exposure a large investor has on their short position in common stock may be more meaningful than bullish options activity.
Using These Strategies to Trade Options
Unusual options activity is an advantageous strategy that may greatly reward an investor if they are highly skilled, but for the less experienced trader, it should remain as another tool to make an educated investment decision while taking other observations into account.
For more information to understand options alerts, visit https://pro.benzinga.help/en/articles/1769505-how-do-i-understand-options-alerts
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