VIX soars 34 percent as stocks drop
Chris McKhann | firstname.lastname@example.org
The S&P 500 gave up 27.75 points, or 1.83 percent, to finish at 1487.85--the session low and its lowest close since Jan. 18. It had climbed above 1525 early in the morning but gave up those gains just before noon, then took a steep leg lower in the final hour of trade. The SPX will likely face resistance at that 1525 level, while it may find some support at 1472 and then 1450.
The Nasdaq 100 lost 36.31 points, or 1.33 percent, to end the session at 2700.97. The NDX had climbed above 2760 in the first hour and also saw accelerated selling in the last hour, closing at the day's low and its lowest level of 2013. If it breaks below the 2700 level, the next levels of support are 2650 and then 2600, while resistance will be seen at 2764.
The Russell 2000 led the way down, giving up 20.31 points to its finish at its session low of 895.84 after climbingn near 920 in the morning. That 2.22 percent drop also brought the small-cap index to its lowest close since Jan. 18. The 920 level is now resistance for the RUT, which has some support at 880 and then 850.
The VIX rocketed 4.82 points, or 34.02 percent, to end the day at 18.99, just off its session high of 19.28. The volatility index had fallen to 13.57 in the first hour, so the move from low to high was more than 42 percent. (See "Reasons behind huge spike in VIX")
The VIX also closed above the first six months of VIX futures. I can't remember the last time that has happened, if at all, since 2008.
The VIX futures volume topped 302,000 contracts, a new record by far. The March VIX futures were up 2.85 points to 17.70. Those contracts were above the next two months' futures, also something we haven't seen in quite awhile. The April futures were up 1.70 points to 17.40, and the May futures were up 1.15 points to 17.60.
The iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures Note (VXX) was up 13.66 percent to close at 25.55. It finally is benefiting from the VIX term structure and is once again an interesting hedge vehicle.
The VIX options traded 646,000 contracts in heavy volume, led by 435,000 calls. The VVIX Index, which measures the implied volatility of those VIX options, was up 20 percent to 94.34.
The volatility index has climbed about 50 percent in just the last week. That is right in line with the increase in the 20-day historical volatility of the SPX. The 10-day reading is up 100 percent.