* Options activity climbs
* Shares rise almost 2 percent
NEW YORK, June 3 (Reuters) - Shares in AK Steel Holding Corp (AKS.N: Quote) rose almost 2 percent on Friday and options trading was heavy on market rumors that the steelmaker might be preparing to announce significant news.
Company analysts told Reuters the stock rise appeared to be driven by rumors AK Steel was pulling out of a steel conference -- often a sign that a company is about to make an announcement.
A spokesman for the company declined to comment on market rumors but said there had been no cancellation to any planned investor presentations.
Analysts said that AK Steel had rescheduled a planned trip by analysts to one of its steel mills, but the spokesman declined to confirm the visit had been changed.
"AK Steel options are seeing increased activity, being driven by speculative call buying," said WhatsTrading.com options strategist Frederic Ruffy.
"It is remarkable that the market thinks that when a company cancels a meeting it's because of an M&A (mergers and acquisitions) situation," said analyst Michelle Applebaum of Steel Market Intelligence in Chicago.
Charles Bradford, of Bradford Research in New York, noted, however, that AK Steel might be in the market to make a deal to secure its own iron ore supplies, since it is currently having to pay high market prices for the raw material.
In afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange, AK Steel stock rose 1.8 percent to $15.06 on a day when other steel company stocks were down.
Total options volume of about 42,000 calls and 7,747 puts traded by Friday afternoon was 4.1 times greater than average daily levels for the steelmaker, according to options analytics firm Trade Alert.
The June calls, giving the right to buy the shares at $16 apiece, are the most popular, with more than 18,000 contracts traded. The June $15 and $17 calls are busy as well. (Reporting by Steve James and Matt Daily in New York and Doris Frankel in Chicago; editing by Gunna Dickson and Gerald E. McCormick, sourced Thomson Reuters)