Apple traders playing for short-term surge

After getting crushed over the past few weeks, Apple shares are now set for a quick rise. At least, that's what options traders seem to be betting on.

As of Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET, five of the six most popular options strikes were call options on Apple that expire on Friday. Even more tellingly, most of the activity came on the "ask" side, meaning that people were buying the options rather than selling.

This isn't to say that huge moves are expected. Wednesday's most popular options strike is Apple's weekly August 117-strike call, which could be purchased for about 80 cents. In order for the trade to pay off, then, the tech giant's shares would need to rise just more than 1 percent from their $116.50 midday price.

Other popular options include the weekly 115-strike call, the weekly 120-strike call and the weekly 116-strike call.

"It seems like someone is looking for a continuation of the bounce off of this week's lows—and they are expecting it to happen soon," commented Andrew Keene, an options trader with Keene on the Market.

However, not everyone finds the action in soon-to-expire options terribly telling.

These traders "are not really expressing any sort of opinion on the stock," said Dennis Davitt of Harvest Volatility Advisors, likening short-term options to "ice cream" in that they are unhealthy for one's portfolio but provide short-term pleasure.

"I don't really focus on two-day options because I'm more of a long-term investor—which, nowadays, means I look out three months into the future," Davitt added.

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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Sara Eisen

Sara Eisen joined CNBC in December 2013 as a correspondent, focusing on the global consumer. She is co-anchor of the 10AM ET hour of CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" (M-F, 9AM-11AM ET), broadcast from Post 9 at the New York Stock Exchange.

In March 2018, Eisen was named co-anchor of CNBC's "Power Lunch" (M-F, 1PM-3PM ET), which broadcasts from CNBC Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

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