The shares of Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE:GOLD) are up 3.1% at $20.39 at last check, rising in concert with the safe-haven asset. Today's rise comes as bullion bounces back from seven-month lows it touched back on Friday. The gold mining stock is even brushing off a price-target cut from J.P. Morgan Securities to $39 from $42.
Along with gold prices, Barrick stock has been on a steady path lower, culminating in a Feb. 19 low of $19.69, it's lowest level since early April. Despite today's gains GOLD has shed 10.5% already in 2021.
Options traders have been quick to get in on the action, with 91,000 calls exchanging hands so far -- double what's typically seen at this point and call volume pacing for the 99th percentile of its annual range -- versus 16,000 puts. The March 20 call is the most popular, followed by the weekly 2/26 21-strike call, with new positions being opened at the latter.
This penchant for bullish bets is nothing new, as shown by GOLD's 50-day call/put volume ratio of 7.25 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), which stands higher than all other readings from the past 12 months. Echoing this, the equity's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) stands higher than just 14% of annual readings, meaning short-term option players have rarely been more call-biased.
Now might not be a bad time to weigh in on these options, either. The stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 38% stands higher than 10% of all other readings in its annual range, implying that options players are pricing in relatively low volatility expectations at the moment.