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Volatility ETF Trading Surges on Market Jitters, VIX


Volatility exchange traded products rallied Monday on expectations the long-awaited S&P 500 pullback could finally materialize after a strong early-year rally.

The iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX) was among the five most-active U.S. stocks by share volume in afternoon trading Monday with a 4.3% gain. With over 60 million shares traded, the VIX-futures note doubled its average daily volume with an hour and a half left to go in the session.

Trading volume was also heavy in ProShares Ultra VIX Short-Term Futures (UVXY), which added 8.5%.

Some traders use these volatility-linked products to hedge long portfolios or even speculate on equity sell-offs. [VIX ETFs: An Imperfect Hedge]

Global markets were unsettled Monday following reports Silvio Berlusconi’s center right was slightly ahead in Italy’s parliamentary elections. Investors are nervous the result could trigger further instability in Italy and the lingering European debt crisis. [Italy ETF Swings Lower on Berlusconi, Election]

“We don’t want to see more chaos out of Europe,” Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at the private-banking unit of KeyCorp in Cleveland, said in a Bloomberg News report. “Any question about whether or not Italy would be committed to austerity measures after the elections gets investors concerned.”

SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) was off 0.8% in afternoon trade.

Volatility-linked products such as VXX and UVXY have bumped higher recently after dropping to all-time lows. VXX is still down about 25% the past three months even with Monday’s rally.

iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN


Full disclosure: Tom Lydon’s clients own SPY.

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