It's expiration Friday, so options players are bustling about trying to decide how to deal with their front-month positions, which cease to be in about 3 hours. There is certainly a lot of action in the November series today, but speculators in American Express have taken a different approach.
Currently, one of American Express' calls is the most-active call option trading on the American Exchange, and it's not a front-month position. In fact, it's not even in the front year. The 2009 65 LEAPS call (VAX AM) out of the money by about $6.50 has seen more than 11,000 calls change hands today. This morning, the strike was home to 8,800 positions, meaning that much of today's volume is likely to translate as new open interest.
One block of 11,000 contracts went off just before 11:00 a.m., trading off the bid price of $6.50 per contract, for a total value of $7.1 million for the block. The trade was tagged as a spread and was likely paired with the January 2009 55 LEAPS put (VAX MK), which also saw 11,000 contracts trade today. The volume on this option traded in 2 blocks of 5,500 contracts that went off at the ask price. This suggests that the out-of-the-money put may have been bought to open, while the out-of-the-money call was sold.
AXP shares are fractionally higher in today's trading and are trying to hold above long-term support from their 20-month moving average.