The Information in Option Volume for Stock Prices
28 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2003
Date Written: January 13, 2003
We find strong evidence of information transmission from the options market to underlying stock prices. Taking advantage of a unique dataset from the Chicago Board Options Exchange, we construct put to call volume ratios for underlying stocks, using only volume initiated by buyers to open new positions. Performing daily cross-sectional analyses from 1990 to 2001, we find that buying stocks with low put/call ratios and selling stocks with high put/call ratios generates an expected return of 40 basis points per day and 1 percent per week. This result is present during each year of our sample period, and is not affected by the exclusion of earnings announcement windows. Moreover, the result is stronger for smaller stocks, indicating that the options market may be a more important avenue for information transmission for stocks with less efficient information flow. Our analysis also sheds light on the type of investor behind the informed option trading. Specifically, we find that option trading from customers of full service brokers provides the strongest predictability, while that from firm proprietary traders is not informative. Furthermore, our analysis shows that while public customers on average trade in the options market as contrarians -- buying fresh new puts on stocks that have done well and calls on stocks that have done poorly, firm proprietary traders exhibit the opposite behavior. Finally, in contrast to the equity options market, we do not find any evidence of informed trading in the index options market.
Keywords: options, information, volume, derivatives
JEL Classification: G12, G12, G14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation