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Options market is betting on further declines for Deutsche Bank shares

Deutsche Bank
Krisztian Bocsi | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank's U.S.-traded shares may have bounced back, but many in the options market don't expect the stock to hold those gains for long.

There "appears to be pretty strong belief the stock is going to break below $10 in the next couple months," said Dan Deming, managing director at KKM Financial.

Shares were about 2 percent lower near $12.80 a share in Monday afternoon, following a big, 14 percent jump Friday after an AFP report indicated that the German bank was near an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice for less than half the regulator's original demand for a $14 billion settlement. CNBC has not independently confirmed the report, and there are reasons to be skeptical about the stated number.

"The options market 'thinks' the chance of (Deutsche Bank) stock reaching those low dollar strikes is still high, even after the 14 percent jump in the stock." -Pravit Chintawongvanich, head derivatives strategist, Macro Risk Advisors

Options traders appear skeptical as well that gains in the share price will hold after hitting record lows last week.

Deming pointed to 31,000 open interest for puts, or options to sell the stock at $8 a share in December — a high figure. Open interest is the number of contracts available for trading, and a higher number indicates more money is flowing into that position.

For January, open interest is at 42,000 for $10 put options and more than 57,000 for $5 put options, according to FactSet. Looking all the way out to January 2018, open interest for even $3 puts is above 10,000.

Those are "notable, large amounts," said Phil Davis, CEO, PSW Investments.com. "$3 is a bet on bankruptcy."

Options market volume around shares of Deutsche Bank jumped last week as traders focused on a slew of headlines around the struggling German lender. Analysts said that volume tripled Thursday as shares dropped nearly 6.7 percent on a Bloomberg report that said a handful of its hedge fund clients were limiting their exposure to Deutsche Bank, though the bank has characterized those media reports as "unjustified concerns."

Implied volatility jumped more last Thursday than on the initial stock reaction to the DOJ news when markets absorbed the news on September 16. Shares had fallen more than 9 percent then, versus nearly 6.7 percent last Thursday.

"What's interesting here is that the options market reacted so strongly to the story of (hedge funds) reducing their credit exposure to (Deutsche Bank), rather than just the stock price going down," Pravit Chintawongvanich, head derivatives strategist at Macro Risk Advisors, said in a Monday note.

"The options market 'thinks' the chance of DB stock reaching those low dollar strikes is still high, even after the 14 percent jump in the stock," Chintawongvanich said.

To be sure, analysts note that the negative indications on the stock from the options market don't necessarily justify the fears of systemic risk that unsettled the broader stock market last week.

A metric measuring credit default swaps, or the cost of insuring Deutsche Bank debt against default for the next five years, rose Friday but remained below the highs of the year, from February, according to data from Markit.

"Credit default swaps, these are the most savvy market in the marketplace in terms of measuring risk," said Marc Chaikin, CEO of Chaikin Analytics. "What the options market might tell you is a bet on the price."