Bears Pile into Regional Bank Options

Traders flooded into bearish positions on Zions Bancorp today after the regional lender posted an $832.2 million first-quarter loss.

More than 3,900 May 9 puts changed hands this morning against open interest of just 376 contracts, at prices ranging from $0.25 to $1.30. Most of the options traded above theoretical value, which reflects strong buying interest. Money also flowed into the May 7.50 puts and the July 2.50 puts, which went for $0.12 to $0.65 and $0.10 to $0.15, respectively.

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Overall put volume in ZION outnumbered calls by more than 2 to 1, according to OptionMonster’s monitoring systems.

ZION shares have plunged 17 percent to $10.73 since the earnings report this morning. The company faces a surge of bad real estate loans and investment losses, and its credit rating was cut to junk by Moody's Investors Service.

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David Russell is a reporter and writer for OptionMonster.