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Calls Hot as Riot Blockchain Rides Bitcoin Wave

Patrick Martin

In the wake of Facebook's cryptocurrency reveal, the blockchain sector has made outsized moves lately, with Bitcoin crossing the $10,000 level over the weekend to trade near 15-month highs. This has Riot Blockchain Inc (NASDAQ:RIOT) stock up 18.2% to trade at $3.24 today -- set for its best day since April 2 -- and it appears options traders are targeting extended upside by week's end.

More specifically, RIOT has seen 18,000 call options change hands today -- seven times what's typically seen at this point, and volume pacing in the elevated 99th annual percentile. The weekly 6/28 3- and 3.50-strike calls are most active, with new positions being opened. Those buying to open the calls expect RIOT shares to extend their upward momentum north of the strikes before the options expire on Friday, June 28.

Today's bullish bias echoes a broader trend seen among RIOT options traders. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), 4,002 calls were bought to open in the past two weeks, compared to just 324 puts. Plus, this ratio ranks in the elevated 78th percentile of its annual range, indicating calls have been purchased over puts at a faster-than-usual clip in the past two weeks.

Year-to-date, Riot Blockchain stock has more than doubled. The $6 level proved to be a formidable ceiling back in April, though, and this area coincided with the shares' 320-day moving average. Assuming RIOT can hold on to today's gains for the rest of the week, it would have locked up its third-straight weekly win -- something we haven't seen since the shares were barreling into those April highs.

Daily Stock Chart RIOT

An exodus of short sellers could keep the wind at the stock's back, should RIOT extend its rally. Short interest fell by 14.4% in the most recent reporting period, to 4.01 million shares. Still, this takes up more than 26% of the RIOT's total available float.