Big U.S. Treasuries Wagers Bet Against Election Fireworks

The latest big options wagers on Treasuries are bucking the trend of betting on a tempestuous U.S. election.

One trader spent around $2.5 million on Tuesday on a bet that Treasuries will experience just modest declines following the Nov. 3 vote. The other eye-catching position was a hefty punt on the weeks following the vote, calling for bond yields to remain stuck in a range.

The trades stood out for their size and because they’re against the current run of play. Strategists have been calling for a possible surge in yields on the chances of a “Blue Wave” Democratic victory. That’s looking increasingly possible, as nominee Joe Biden hasconsistently led national polls, and expectations of Democrats taking the Senate have risen.

A closer look shows the first trade is a short volatility position that expires a week after election day, but leaves the buyer exposed to unlimited losses if benchmark yields jump more than around 12 basis points, according to calculations by Bloomberg.

The so-called 10-year Treasury put tree takes advantage of the fact that the cost to buy options targeting a spike in yields is high relative to those aimed at a modest increase.

See here for details of Tuesday’s large 10-year put tree trades

The second trade was a sale of a so-called strangle on 10-year Treasuries — a pair of upside and downside options — which generated over $21 million in premiums. The bet will pay out if 10-year yields remain between 0.65% and 1% between the election and the options’ expiry on Dec. 24.

The benchmark yield rose to a four-month high of 0.82% Wednesday, buoyed partly by hopes of another stimulus deal prior to the election.

See here for details of the 10-year strangle sale

Preliminary open interest data released after market close suggested the wagers were new positions. Differences in the execution styles of the two trades suggested they came from separate sources, said a trader based in New York, who asked not to be named.

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