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‘Nasdaq whale’ closes more large options trades

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NEW YORK: A large options player which some market watchers call the “Nasdaq whale” unwound bets on several technology-related companies on Friday after the sector’s recent sell-off.

The investor closed a position in a bullish call options spread on Adobe Inc at a loss of roughly $200,000. The spread represented around $935 million of notional value. The call spread was originally bought on Aug. 5 among a group of trades that some market analysts have attributed to SoftBank Group Corp.

Adobe shares ended 1.4% lower at $467.55 as U.S. stocks fell broadly.

The investor sold stock at the time of the call spread purchase, then bought back the shares after selling the options, at a loss of roughly $9 a share. Because the options trades were tied to stock, they had minimal impact on market activity, unlike the sell-off earlier this month, said Christopher Murphy, co-head of derivatives strategy at Susquehanna Financial Group.

The trade marks the first closure among the call spreads believed to be tied to SoftBank, and it could prompt speculation on whether it is “just a one-off or the beginning of a trend,” Murphy said.

Last week, an investor exited large options positions in names such as Facebook Inc, Netflix Inc and Salesforce.com Inc, though those positions had different structures from the call spreads tied to SoftBank.

Also on Friday, an investor closed large call options positions in Alphabet Inc and Amazon.com Inc, noted Amy Wu Silverman, equity derivatives strategist at RBC Capital Markets. Alphabet shares fell 2.4% and Amazon shares dipped 1.8%, both underperforming the S&P 500 index, which declined 1.1%.

“These ‘whale’ tech unwinds continue to influence sentiment and put pressure on the FANG names,” Wu Silverman wrote in an email, referring to the group of leading tech-related stocks including Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet.

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