US stand-off stalls edgy futures market
By GARETH HEWETT
HANG Seng Index futures and cash trading remained stalled as United States Government offices shut in the debt ceiling funding row and ahead of the Federal Reserves Open Market Committee meeting overnight.
The November contract rose 18 points to 9,430, at par with the market.
December futures rose 22 points to 9,472, a premium over the cash of 41 points.
The November contract opened in weak sentiment, sending it through the psychologically important 9,400 level before 10.30am. A recovery set in taking the contract to 9,440 before a struggle between buyers and sellers saw the contract bounce off 9,400. In afternoon trading the high of the day of 9,480 was reached before selling set in again to make the close.
In November there were 12,208 contracts traded and in December there were 655 contracts traded.
Jardine Fleming, in index options, said bears continued to rule. Overseas bears kept their eyes on 9,600 puts, 8,800 to 9,200 put spreads and December 8,800 puts, the brokerage said.
Implied volatility slid to about 20 per cent at-the-money in November index options. In December it was 23 per cent.
HSBC stock options in November near-the-money was 23 per cent in the calls and 26 per cent in the puts. In December the calls were 24 per cent and the puts were 25 per cent. The quotes for Cheung Kong were the same, according to Jardine Fleming, indicating bears were the dominant force in options yesterday.
In addition to the political turmoil in the United States and the Fed meeting on interest rates there, consumer price figures, and industrial capacity utilisation and industrial production figures for October, were all due out.
The combination of heavy-hitting economic data and political and monetary uncertainty meant big institutions the world over were reluctant to do anything major on their portfolios. Those already suffering with nervous dispositions, sold at the end of last week in the heavy turnover.
A number of brave investors were out surfing the volatility waves buying straddles and strangles in the belief the index was due to move up or down sharply amid rising volatility.