I was recently looking over historical data (intraday) for options on individual australian equities, e.g. call and put options on BHP e.t.c., that are listed on the ASX. The data source is Thomson Reuters Tick History (I'm an academic so I can get access to this data through SIRCA). What I found looked very puzzling to me (admittedly I have no experience in trading options) so I thought I would ask here whether what I saw is normal. There were two distinct things I found odd:
1) The number of actual transactions was very low. For example, searching across all options on BHP (all strike prices and expiry dates, both put and call) for transactions over a randomly chosen two week period in 2014 resulted in ~50 transactions (this is across ~1000 options). Note, there were plenty of quotations over this interval, but very few actual trades.
2) The bid-ask spread in the quotations data was (to my mind) frequently enormous. It was not unusual to see a best bid price of 1.20 and a best ask price of 1.50. It isn't obvious to me how a speculator could possibly profit given such a wide spread.
Both these points together lead me to believe there is something pretty fundamental I don't understand about this data, so I thought I would come here and ask some people who actually trade these options day to day what I'm missing. Perhaps most of the market is OTC and not on the exchange (my understanding is that the data is all from options listed on the ASX)? If so, then where should I look if I want to see lots of historical intraday data on options on individual equities? What if I want to see the quotations data with the smallest spread? Perhaps what I describe above is normal?
Any help or pointers that you all can offer would be greatly appreciated, so thanks in advance.