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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Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's “Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET).   In addition, he contributes to CNBCand CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

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