Coinbase options launch draws robust volume

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People watch as the logo for Coinbase Global Inc, the biggest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, is displayed on the Nasdaq MarketSite jumbotron at Times Square in New York, U.S., April 14, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

NEW YORK, April 20 (Reuters) - Investors got a new way to bet on the fortunes of Coinbase Global (COIN.O) as options on the U.S. cryptocurrency exchange's stock started trading with healthy volume on Tuesday.

Less than a week after the exchange's stock market debut on Nasdaq, Cboe Global Markets (CBOE.Z), Nasdaq (NDAQ.O), the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE.N) and other exchanges launched trade in Coinbase equity options.

About 22,000 Coinbase contracts traded by late afternoon, with puts outnumbering calls slightly, and volume should hit 31,000 by the end of the day, data from Trade Alert showed.

Puts convey the right to sell the stock at a set price at a future date, while calls provide the right to buy it at a certain price at a future date.

Coinbase recently went public in a high-profile direct listing on Nasdaq, where - unlike a traditional initial public offering - no shares are sold ahead of the opening. read more

Trading volume in Coinbase options was robust but fell short of other popular stocks' options launches. For instance, Facebook's (FB.O) options traded about 360,000 contracts on their first day in 2012.

"It's not fireworks," said Henry Schwartz, head of product intelligence at Cboe. "Still, volume isn't bad."

For Coinbase, the lack of a lockup period, where a bar on selling stock can prompt investors to turn to options to protect their holding, may have taken away one source of demand, Schwartz said.

Still, strong retail interest in Coinbase bodes well for the options.

Following its launch last week, Coinbase drew massive retail buying, with over $100 million worth of shares, on a net basis, taken up in the first two days of trading, according to Eric Liu, head of research at Vanda Research.

Coinbase shares were down 4.8% at $317.18 on Nasdaq.

Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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