VIX back above 14 as stocks decline

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The CBOE Volatility Index and its futures jumped yesterday as major equity indexes declined.

The S&P 500 was down 5.88 points to close at 1501.96, just above the session lows reached at the end of the day. It did get as high as 1509.94 in the morning, a new five-year intraday high. Resistance is now 1510 and support is 1470.

The Nasdaq 100 was down 4.87 points to 2738.71. It too was just above the day's low, which came just before the bell. It was above 2757 shortly after the open but still well below its September highs. A first level of resistance will be seen at 2770, while support is at 2660.

The Russell 2000 was down 10.40 points, or 1.15 percent, to finish just above session lows at 896.81. The small-cap index posted a record high close on Tuesday and had been leading the market higher. Resistance is now 908, while the first level of support is 880 with 852 below that.

Despite the modest drop in the SPX, the VIX was up 1.01 points, or 7.6 percent, to finish at its session high of 14.32. That is the volatility index's highest close since the second trading day of 2013. It has been generally rising with the SPX, with a 10-day correlation that has turned positive--a rare occurrence, as the two indexes usually move inversely.

The action was not just some statistical quirk, as the futures were also sharply higher. The February futures gained 1.15 points, or 8.2 percent, to finish trading at 15.20. The March futures were up 0.80 points to close at 15.75.

This pushed the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (:VXX) up 1.44 points, or 6.3 percent, to close at 24.30. That brings it back into the range from a week ago Friday as it climbs off last week's all-time lows.

More than 483,000 VIX options traded yesterday, with calls outpacing puts by 2 to 1. The VVIX Index, which measures the implied volatility of those options, was up 5 percent to 77.34. Even with that big move, however, it is still below any reading before 2013 in its short life.

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