Bolstered by an ongoing biotechnology rally and surges by Amazon (NasdaqGS: AMZN) and Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB), the PowerShares QQQ (NasdaqGM: QQQ), the Nasdaq-100 (NDQ) tracking ETF, is up more than 7% year-to-date and hit another all-time Thursday.
Even with those bullish data points in its favor, QQQ’s bearish options, or puts, are far pricier than bullish call options.
“Options protecting against a 10 percent decline in the tech ETF’s shares cost 9.8 points more than those betting on a similar climb, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The relationship between the implied volatilities known as skew reached 10.4 on July 9, the highest since June 2012,” report Callie Bost and Annelise Alexander for Bloomberg.
Traders are speculating that slack consumer demand in China could crimp profits for QQQ constituents such as Qualcomm (NasdaqGS: QCOM) and Nvidia (NasdaqGS: NVDA), according to Bloomberg. Those stocks combine for just 2.2% of QQQ’s weight.
Bearish bets on QQQ are also indirect bearish wagers on the continuing ascent of the biotechnology industry. Healthcare is QQQ’s third-largest sector at almost 16%. Of QQQ’s 14 healthcare holdings, eight or biotech or specialty pharmaceuticals firms.
The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (NasdaqGS: IBB) is up more than 30% this year. That ETF tracks the NASDAQ Biotech Index, a benchmark that is home to the eight biotech stocks that also reside in QQQ, including Celgene (NasdaqGS: CELG) and Gilead Sciences (NasdaqGS: GILD).