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Why Are Bears Flocking to This Emerging-Market ETF?

Tuesday, 1 Feb 2011 | 8:10 AM ET

The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ETF is always a popular name in the option market, and yesterday traders were taking downside positions.

The bearish activity began early in the exchange-traded fund's May 40 puts. Then as the session progressed, OptionMonster's tracking systems detected buying of the February 45s, March 42s, and the March 46s. By the end of the day, almost 312,000 puts had traded against fewer than 54,000 calls.

The fund fell 1.06 percent to $45.81 yesterday, following a 3 percent drop on Friday. The fund provides diversified coverage across financials, industrial materials, energy, telecom, and most other sectors in emerging-market economies.

The puts may have been bought as protection on a stock position or as a speculative play looking for a downside move. Either way the trade is not a surprise after developing countries took a hit last week with the unrest in Egypt.

Overall option volume in the name was more than twice the average amount yesterday.

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Pete Najarian is a professional investor, CNBC contributor, regular co-host of CNBC's "Fast Money" and co-founder of OptionMonster.com.

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