September 20, 2017 / 9:07 PM / 2 years ago

House Finance Committee delves into unusual Equifax options trades: CNBC

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The House Financial Services Committee is seeking information about certain Equifax Inc (EFX.N) options trades made weeks before the credit reporting company disclosed a data breach, according to CNBC report on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Credit reporting company Equifax Inc. corporate offices are pictured in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Tami Chappell/File Photo

Equifax options drew an unusually large trade less than three weeks before Sept. 7, when Equifax disclosed that personal details of as many as 143 million U.S. consumers were accessed by hackers between mid-May and July.

On Aug. 21, 2,500 put contracts betting on Equifax shares dipping below $135 by Sept. 15 traded for a total price of about $181,000.

By end of trading on Sept. 8, these puts were worth about $2.6 million, according to options analytics firm Trade Alert data.

Buying of put options conveys the right to sell shares at a fixed price in the future and indicates a bearish bias, while selling puts would imply a bullish outlook.

While the size of the trade was far in excess of the stock’s average daily trading volume at that time of less than 50 contracts a day, it was not immediately clear whether the trader bought or sold these options.

A lawyer for the committee has reached out to traders, looking for a possible explanation for the spike in options trading, according to an unnamed source familiar with the inquiry, the CNBC report said.

The committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Options activity has been known to spike before the public announcement of information that moves stock prices, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has in the past announced enforcement action for alleged insider trading involving options.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission declined to comment.

Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Additional reporting by Patrick Rucker in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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