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March 14, 2014  Fri 12:11 PM CT

A huge put trade dominates heavy option volume in the iShares Emerging Markets Fund ahead of this weekend's secession vote in Crimea.

optionMONSTER Depth Charge system shows that a block of 125,000 March 39.50 puts traded for $1.24 against open interest of 186,444 today. At the same time, a block of 125,000 April 39 puts was bought for $1.47, above the listed ask price, in what is clearly a new position because volume well above that strike's previous open interest of 91,000 contracts.

This could be a new diagonal spread, but the trader is more likely rolling forward the March puts, which expire a week from today. In that case the trader is closing the near-term position and opening new puts at the lower strike a month later.

Given that the puts are in the money, this is very likely an outright bearish play rather than a hedge on a long position. (See our Education section)

The EEM is up 0.81 percent to $38.50 in afternoon trading. The exchange-traded fund was above $40 last week but near $37 at the start of February.

Total option volume in the name already tops 600,000 contracts so far today, more than double its daily average for the last month. Overall puts outnumber calls by more than 4 to 1.
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