Schwab, Zimmer Top Options Action

Thursday was a busy day in options on Charles Schwab, according to Rebecca Darst of NYSE Euronext.

"Options overall were trading at about four times the normal level, and relatively early in the session, we saw volume pick up in the December 17.50 puts," she told CNBC. "Clearly, traders were getting very bearish on Charles Schwab, paying as much as 80 cents for these option contracts that expire next Friday."

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Schwab shares on Thursday closed down 8 percent, just below $17.

"It may just be people getting very defensive on the basis of valuation," she said.

There was also wide-ranging options action among companies that make medical devices.

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"The action seemed to start with Zimmer Holdings," Darst said. "This has been the target of some takeover speculation involving Johnson & Johnson in the past."

She said Zimmer options were trading at nine times the normal level on Thursday.

"The stock closed a little higher, just below the $40 level, but we saw option traders buying into $40 and $45 calls," she explained.

And it didn't stop there.

"We also saw this appear to spill over into other sector peers, namely Stryker," Darst said.


Disclosure information was not available for Darst or her employer.