One of the hottest trades of the year is about to get even hotter.
Mining stocks have struck gold since the start of 2016, rallying more than 17 percent and shooting to their highest level since late October. The move has sparked a flurry of bullish activity this week.
“Gold and gold miners is where the options action was this week, … with the top two stocks being Freeport McMoRan and Newmont Mining,” Mike Khouw told CNBC’s “Fast Money” on Thursday. Freeport and Newmont were up a respective 16 and 27 percent in the last week, while the broader gold miners ETF, the GDX, has rallied 6 percent in the same period.
The options activity in the gold miners comes amid an influx of money piling into the ETF. Tom Lydon, CEO of ETFTrends.com, told CNBC producers this week that more than $2 billion has come into the GDX in the last month.
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One trade that stuck out to Khouw on Thursday was a hefty bet that the GDX could reach a new 52-week high by midyear. Specifically, that trader purchased 50,000 of the June 22 strike calls for 32 cents each. Since one call option accounts for 100 shares of stock, this is a $1.6 million bet that the GDX would be above $22.32 by June expiration. That’s nearly 40 percent higher than where the ETF is currently trading.
“It appears this trader is rolling out and up of a bullish position, basically betting on continuing and substantial gains in the gold miners over the next five months,” said Khouw, co-founder of Optimize Advisors and a CNBC contributor.
The move in the miners this year is largely fueled by a surge in gold prices. The commodity has rallied 9 percent in 2016, but curiously enough it saw a similar rise in the first five weeks of 2015, only to sell off sharply as the year progressed.