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3 Options Trades to Play Market Volatility

Thursday’s market volatility was nearly unprecedented. It’s not every day the Nasdaq opens down over 3% and rallies 7% to close deep in the green. In fact, according to Ryan Detrick of LPL Financial, the only other time we’ve…

Thursday’s market volatility was nearly unprecedented. It’s not every day the Nasdaq opens down over 3% and rallies 7% to close deep in the green. In fact, according to Ryan Detrick of LPL Financial, the only other time we’ve seen such a wicked reversal was in April 2000. If the whipsaw has your head spinning, you’re in good company. Fortunately, some options trades allow you to capitalize on the volatility.

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Most traders think only of betting on direction. While it can be a profitable endeavor in good times, it’s complicated when bear markets strike, and prices ricochet wildly back and forth. In contrast, volatility trades focus more on gaming magnitude, or how much the market moves. Today’s ideas all thrive when the market moves less than expected.

They’re particularly appealing in the current market because of the sky-high implied volatility. With the CBOE Volatility Index (CBOEINDEX:VIX) shooting to nearly 40 on Thursday, options premiums are pumped. So here are three tickers that are worth building options trades on.

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  • S&P 500 ETF (NYSEARCA:SPY)
  • Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD)
  • Freeport-McMoran (NYSE:FCX)

For variety, we’re going to build different volatility-based strategies on each.

Options Trades: S&P 500 ETF (SPY)

Source: The thinkorswim® platform from TD Ameritrade

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As is always the case during turmoil, the correlation between stocks is running hot. So rather than picking an individual company, why not keep things simple and sell options on the entire market using SPY? The iron condor strategy allows us to sell juiced-up options contracts while maintaining a neutral bias. Essentially, the trade will payout if the S&P 500 doesn’t rise or fall too far from here.

And I don’t think it will! There’s a lot of overhead resistance, making it difficult to score a V-shaped recovery. At the same time, we’re pretty oversold, so I don’t think prices will decline that much further over the coming weeks. We will sell an out-of-the-money bull put and bear call spread to build the condor.

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The Trade: Sell the April $375/$370 bull put and the $463/$468 bear call for a net credit around $1.

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Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) stock chart with bullish reversal.Source: The thinkorswim® platform from TD Ameritrade

If you wanted to take the stock-picking route, you could do worse than Advanced Micro Devices. The chip stock is outperforming the tech sector and recently reported fantastic earnings. But that’s not all. Its bounce back from Thursday’s down open was epic. From the session low, prices surged 11.5% to negate the recent support break and carry AMD stock back above its 200-day moving average.

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With that type of buoyancy, I suspect AMD is unlikely to fall below $100 over the coming month. We can sell a bull put spread that profits from just such an outcome.

The Trade: Sell the March $100/$95 bull put for 60 cents.

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You’re risking $4.40 to make 60 cents if the put spread expires out-of-the-money.

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Options Trades: Freeport-McMoran (FCX)

Freeport-McMoran (FCX) stock chart with bullish engulfing candleSource: The thinkorswim® platform from TD Ameritrade

Commodity-based stocks have largely ignored the market drama. Rising inflation has kept them aloft. There are multiple companies to choose from, but Freeport-McMoran is my favorite for options trades. Thursday registered a gorgeous bullish engulfing candle at short-term support. It’s one of the few stocks that remains above its 20-day moving average.

The low price tag and above-average stock volatility make it a perfect fit for selling naked puts. Like the bull put we built on AMD, selling puts offers a high probability way to bank on FCX not falling more than expected. Indeed, I don’t expect it to fall at all, but if it does, we’ll have a wide margin of error.

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The Trade: Sell the April $36 put for 75 cents.

If you’re a willing buyer of FCX, you could allow assignment if prices sink below $36. You’ll end up long 100 shares at a cost basis of $35.25.

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On the date of publication, Tyler Craig was LONG SPY, AMD, and FCX. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

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