With United Kingdom voting today on whether to leave the European union, options traders are moving onto the next scenario that provides significant risk to the market, China’s economic slowdown and its affect on emerging markets.
The ratio of bearish to bullish options on Hong Kong’s largest exchange-traded fund tracking Chinese shares climbed to the highest level since March 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The iShares China Large Cap ETF has seen the open interest on put options jump to 1.89 times that on bullish call options as of June 20.
Puts are contracts that give their owner the right to sell the ETF at a predetermined price on an agreed date. On May 4, the ETF experienced the biggest investment outflows since 2009. Since the start of June, it has experienced the worst degree of short-selling in two years.
With China’s economy slowing and the yuan declining, Shanghai and Hong Kong are currently among the world’s 10 worst-performing markets this year.
The surge in put options means investors want protection against losses in an ETF that’s already witnessed outflows of $1.6 billion this year.
The rise on the China ETF was a marked contrast with options traders’ optimism on emerging markets, where the put-call ratio is declining.
The put-call ratio on the iShares MSCI Emerging Market ETF has fallen to 1.31 from a high of 1.71 in January. The fund has also attracted a net $467 million this year.