VIX Presentations in NYC (Oct. 18) and Boston (Oct. 25)

As shown in the charts below, both VIX® futures and VIX options are experiencing all-time record high average daily volumes this year.   While interest in VIX is high, many investors remark that they would like to learn more about VIX and volatility.  Presentations on Accessing VIX and Volatility will be delivered in New York and Boston later this month; if you would like to see more details and register to attend, please click on the links below.


NEW YORK CITY, THURSDAY, OCT. 18th, 6:00 p.m.

Accessing VIX and Volatility: Dynamics Features and Portfolio Applications

  • Joanne M. Hill, PhD, Head of Investment Strategy at ProShares Advisors
  • Matthew T. Moran, VP, Business Development, CBOE

At NYSSA, 1540 Broadway, (entrance on 45th Street), Suite 1010, New York, 10036


BOSTON, THURSDAY, OCT. 25th, 12:15 p.m.

Accessing VIX and Volatility: Dynamics, Features and Portfolio Applications

  • Joanne M. Hill, PhD, Head of Investment Strategy at ProShares Advisors
  • Matthew T. Moran, VP, Business Development, CBOE

At: Hyatt Regency Boston, One Avenue de Lafayette, Boston, MA  02111




In the past month all-time single-day trading volume records were set for both —

  • VIX futures on September 13, as 190,081 contracts traded; and
  • VIX options on September 11, as a reported 1,221,403 contracts changed hands.


Average daily volume for VIX futures in the first three quarters of 2012 was 86,022 (up 80% over the average daily volume in 2011).


Average daily volume for VIX options in the first three quarters of 2012 was 428,050 (up 10% over the average daily volume in 2011).  More VIX information is at




OVX/VIX Ratio Rises Above 2.2

Sept. 27 – Investors can gain valuable insights into the relative costs of various options positions by comparing the values of key volatility indexes.  On Thursday the closing values for three volatility indexes were —

33.05             OVX – CBOE Crude Oil Volatility Index

17.07             VXV – CBOE S&P 500 3-Month Volatility Index

14.84             VIX® – CBOE Volatility Index®


In a September 27th story, Bloomberg reporters Nikolaj Gammeltoft and Cecile Vannucci wrote —

“Oil Puts at 16-Month High Versus S&P 500 on Slowdown.  Costs to protect against losses in oil jumped to a 16-month high compared with U.S. stocks, a sign the slowing economic recovery may be a greater risk to energy demand than to share prices.   The Chicago Board Options Exchange Crude Oil Volatility Index, tracking 30-day options on the United States Oil Fund LP, climbed 2.3 percent to 35.13 yesterday and reached a two-month high of 36.58 on Sept. 19. The ratio between the oil gauge and the CBOE Volatility Index for equities rose to its highest since May 2011 on Sept. 19.  Traders are paying a premium to protect against losses in oil futures, which have tumbled more than 9 percent since Sept. 14 compared with a 2.2 percent retreat in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. … The oil volatility index has climbed 44 percent since its record low on April 27. In the same period, the volatility gauge for U.S. stock options, known as the VIX, gained 3 percent. …  “


Here are the daily closing OVX/VIX ratios on 3 select dates —

8-Aug-2011         1.17

19-Sep-2012               2.64

27-Sep-2012               2.23

The chart below shows 14 months of price movements for three indexes – OVX, VXV and VIX.  The CBOE S&P 500 3-Month Volatility Index (VXV) is designed to be a constant measure of 3-month implied volatility of the S&P 500® (SPX) Index options. The VXV Index has tended to be less volatile than the CBOE Volatility Index® (VIX®), which measures one-month implied volatility. Using the VXV and VIX indexes together provides useful insight into the term structure of S&P 500 (SPX) option implied volatility. The ratio of the VXV to the VIX Index reached 1.41 on March 16, 2012, but in the past week the VXV/VIX ratio was around 1.1.


This month all-time single-day trading volume records were set for both —

  • VIX futures on September 13, as 190,081 contracts traded; and
  • VIX options on September 11, as a reported 1,221,403 contracts changed hands.

The price chart above can be compared to the volume chart below as they both cover a 14-month time period.

Total volume for OVX futures is more than 8,600 contacts.


VXTH Index and Panel on Oct. 2nd

Three financial experts will discuss the topic ‘Options for Managing Risk and Yield in a Low Interest-rate Environment’ at a panel discussion to be held from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 2nd on the fourth floor of the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), 400 South LaSalle Street, Chicago.

The three panelists will be:

(1) Mr. John Gambla, CFA, FRM, PRM, a Senior Portfolio Manager for the Alternatives and Active Equity Investment Team at First Trust Advisors L.P.  John is a portfolio manager for the new First Trust CBOE S&P 500 VIX Tail Hedge Fund (VIXH). First Trust Advisors, L.P. is headquartered in Wheaton, IL and has approximately $56 billion assets under management or supervision as of July 31, 2012.

(2) Mr. Scott Maidel, CFA, CAIA, FRM, senior portfolio manager in the equity derivatives group for Russell Investments and co-portfolio manager of the new Russell Strategic Call Overwriting Fund. Russell Investments has more than $150 billion in assets under management and is headquartered in Seattle, WA.

(3) Mr. Edward McRedmond, Senior VP – Institutional & Portfolio Strategies, Invesco PowerShares, a firm headquartered in Wheaton, IL with franchise assets of over $65 billion that offers more than 140 ETFs, including the PowerShares S&P 500 BuyWrite Portfolio (PBP) and PowerShares S&P 500 Low Volatility Portfolio (SPLV).

Admission is $10 in advance (or $15 at the door) with snacks and drinks provided.

Please RSVP via

by Friday, September 28th, 2012.


A press release with more information is at —

The meeting is jointly sponsored by Chicago QWAFAFEW and Chicago PRMIA.

Mr. Gambla will provide an analysis of the CBOE VIX Tail Hedge Index (VXTH)

Below is a chart from a paper by Asset Consulting Group entitled “Key Tools for Hedging and Tail Risk Management” (February 2012)

The chart shows the changes for three indexes — the VXTH Index, S&P 500 Index, and CBOE S&P 500 95-110 Collar Index (CLL). 


For more information on indexes and studies, please visit

This Week in VIX and VXN Trading

Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 Indexes were higher last week. Neither VIX nor VXN followed the typical inverse relationship with the underlying indexes and actually finished the week higher as well.

On the open Friday, the S&P 500 was higher and VIX was under pressure trading around 13.50. I saw several twitter comments predicting a 12 handle for VIX before the end of the day. However, it appears even though the S&P 500 continued to finish positive on the day on the day that demand for SPX options picked up pushing VIX to higher levels as well. VIX finished the week at 14.51, up for the day and up just under 1% on the week. VXN held up better than VIX during the week, but did lose value on Friday. Although the implied volatility of NDX options dropped on Friday, VXN was up more than VIX on the week.

A similarity between VIX and VXN trading last week was the shift in each curve. Both spot indexes were higher along with the front month September futures contracts. However, beyond September, both VIX and VXN futures were all lower on the week. The result is a unique curve shift for both markets.

Finally, congratulations were in order for the VIX Futures pit as the CBOE Futures Exchange had record VIX futures volume last Thursday.

This Week In VIX Options and ETNs

This past week the S&P 500 rose almost 2% on the week and in a strange twist VIX was higher on the week as well.  Friday’s action contributed to a corresponding rise for VIX on the week as it appeared portfolio managers may have been in the market for portfolio protection through buying SPX puts.  This sort of demand could be responsible for a jump in VIX.  What was also interesting in the last week and especially on Friday was the increase for VVIX as well.  VVIX was up 10 points on the week, gaining 5 points on Friday.

Although VIX gained on the week, with the exception of the September futures contract, VIX futures lost ground last week.  That combined with the continued slope of near month prices put pressure on VXX along with the other long volatility exchange traded products.  VXX was down 2.44% while VXZ dropped a staggering 7.67%.  This relative under performance of VXZ relative to VXX would normally be associated with a spike on the short end of the VIX curve or possibly from the curve going inverted.  However this drop in VXZ relative to VXX was due more to the farther dated VIX futures dropping more than the near dated futures.

The hedged and short volatility exchange traded products were both higher on the week.  Emerging markets were higher on the week which translated to a higher EEMV and the US stock market strength was able to push USMV slightly higher on the week.

VIX Option activity started to shift focus to October as September expiration is creeping up on us.  Rolling activity and new positions in October expirations and beyond on Tuesday pushed VIX option volume to a record day of 1.22 million contracts.  Dec 24 Calls, Nov 18 Puts, Sep 20 Puts, and Oct 26 Calls all traded over 100,000 contracts individually that day.  A specific trade that got some attention this past week was a large buyer of VIX Oct 30 Calls and subsequent seller of Oct 35 Calls.  This spread was done for anywhere between a 0.10 and 0.16 and could pay off quite nicely if a double in VIX occurs between now and October expiration.

Record VIX Futures Volume

Earlier this week (Tuesday) we witnessed record volume in VIX Options and now the VIX Futures trading at the CBOE Futures Exchange have followed suit. On Thursday the CFE experience a record volume day of its own with strong volume in the VIX Futures arena. At the CFE just over 190,000 VIX Futures were traded shattering the previous record of just under 160,000 contracts which occurred back on June 18, 2012. Average VIX Futures volume for 2012 is running at slightly over 83,000 contracts a day. Currently, there are contracts listed that expire on a monthly basis from September 2012 through May 2013. A month by month volume breakdown follows –

September 2012 63251
October 2012 62417
November 2012 23819
December 2012 13236
January 2013 10100
February 2013 8475
March 2013 6598
April 2013 1434
May 2013 751

What is a bit amazing is this record volume occurred on a day where VIX was under pressure. VIX was down 1.75 to 14.05 and the front month September contract was down 0.90 closing at 14.90 on the day.
The chart below compares the closing VIX and VIX Futures prices from Wednesday (9/12) and Thursday (9/13) this week.


Record VIX Option Volume

Yesterday – September 11, 2012 was a record day for VIX option trading with approximately 1.22 million contracts traded. This surpasses the previous record of 1.17 million contracts back on August 5, 2011. This also marks only the third time that VIX option volume has surpassed 1 million contracts. The other day this occurred was last Friday – September 7, 2012. Average daily volume in VIX Index options has been around 423,000 contracts in 2012 up from the average daily volume of 391,000 in 2011.

A breakdown of the most active contracts from this record day appears with estimated volume is below –

Dec 24.00 Calls – 132,693
Nov 18.00 Puts – 121,220
Sep 20.00 Puts – 106,675
Oct 26.00 Calls – 104,890
Oct 28.00 Calls – 57,166
Oct 23.00 Calls – 45,050
Oct 35.00 Calls – 42,866
Nov 32.50 Calls – 40,251
Nov 28.00 Calls – 36,500
Sep 17.00 Puts – 31,144

Note the majority of actively traded options on this list are calls. The estimated volume breakdown on the day was 392,015 puts to 829,388 call options for a VIX put call ratio of 0.47. The average VIX put/call ratio this year has been around 0.63 so this high volume day was based on more calls relative to the number of puts trading on the day.

All CBOE Put/Call Ratio data is available at –

Q&A on VIX from CBOE Webcast

Yesterday I hosted a webcast for CBOE on trading exchange traded products that base their performance on VIX strategies.  During the webcast Barb and I fielded several very good questions regarding VIX.  A few highlights are below –

Can you comment on the recent relatively low level of VIX?
VIX has been under 20 and at low levels for a few weeks based on a couple of factors.  First, there is a historical inverse relationship between VIX and the S&P 500.  As the S&P 500 is making post 2008 crisis highs, VIX is under a bit of pressure.  Also, remember VIX is a measure of implied volatility.  Recent market volatility as measured by price changes in the S&P 500 has been in the single digits.  This lack of realized volatility in the overall market has resulted in a little pressure on VIX as well.

Why is VXX trading at 9.93 when the September VIX Future is trading at 16.45 and October VIX Future at 18.30 (prices were mid-day on September 11)?
The performance of VXX is based on an index that tracks a portfolio holding the front two month VIX futures contracts.  However, the absolute price of VXX has nothing to do with the prices of the two futures contracts that comprise the underlying index.  Much like the S&P 500 index at 1430 does not have a direct relationship to the prices of the stocks that comprise the S&P 500.

What is the difference between short-term and mid-term VIX exchange traded products?
The exchange traded products that focus on short-term VIX futures are comprised of futures that expire in the next two months (currently September and October).  VXX, VIXY, and VIIX would qualify as short-term.  Mid-term exchange traded products focus on the fourth through seventh month VIX futures (currently December, January, February, and March).  VXZ, VIIZ, and VIXM would be common examples of mid-term exchange traded products.

Could you give an overview of VVIX since we are talking about VIX trading?
The CBOE VVIX Index is an indicator of the expected volatility of the VIX.  This is similar to VIX being an indicator of the expected volatility of the S&P 500.  VVIX is also referred to as the VIX of VIX.  The historic range has been mostly in the 80 to 120 range and along with the complacency seen in VIX, VVIX has been closer to 80 than 120 as of late.

A rebroadcast of the webcast on trading VIX Exchange Traded Products will be available in a couple of days and may be found at the following link –

ETF Trends Article – VIX ETFs: Get Ready for UVXY Reverse Split

John Spence, Web Editor at ETF Trends, states that “ProShares Ultra VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (NYSEArca: UVXY) will reverse split shares 1-for-10 after yesterday’s closing bell.”  Click here to access the full article.

Technical Outlook: VIX Showing Complacency. Really?

We find it amazing how many times the markets, the media, and many, many analysts are always waiting for that next crucial data point. And when that “important” data point or speech finally arrives, it turns out so many times to be a non-event. When the news is bad, but the market rallies, the spinsters find some reason for the surprising rally. When the news is good and the market falls, well you know. As we have said many times, price leads the news, and we continue to believe that the stock market is poised for a large move higher during the next couple of months. Over the past couple of weeks, the major stock indices as well as many individual stocks have paused or pulled back very quietly, and it appears to us that they are setting up for the next leg higher. Quiet, listless markets are not signaling a market top, but rather a refueling before the next fireworks begin.

So far, the S&P 500 has seen a very minor pullback to its 13-day exponential moving average. During fluid moves higher, this is many times all you get as far as a decline. In addition, the “500” has only retraced a minor 23.6% of the rally since July 24, which is the minimum pullback in an uptrend. On the intraday (30- and 60-minute) charts, it appears that the index completed a small three-wave decline, and may be set to lift off. On the daily chart, we have only seen one wave down, which, in our view, is reminiscent of many pullbacks during the third wave of an advance. The key upside chart resistance for the near term is the 1,420 region, and we believe a strong break above this area opens up the possibility of a rally to 1,500+ over the next two months, and toward all-time high territory in the first quarter of 2013.

The VIX, a measure of market expectations of near-term volatility based on option prices of the S&P 500, is closing in on a sell signal, which equates to a buy signal on the stock market. A sell signal on the VIX consists of three steps, with the first and second being a close outside the standard Bollinger Bands, and then a close back inside the bands. The third step is a lower close on the VIX than the close of the day that the VIX first finished back inside the bands. If things stay as they are, the first two steps will have been tripped.

We get quite amused when we read and hear comments on the VIX, as many times they are just flat-out wrong. There are many saying that the recent VIX readings of near 15% (currently 17.4%) are signaling complacency. Well, what does this mean? The options market is saying that there is a 2/3 chance that the S&P 500 will either rise or fall by 15% over the next year. This equates to a rise to 1,621 or a decline to about 1,200. That range of price expectations doesn’t really seem complacent to us. Furthermore, we think the analysts who are calling the recent readings complacent are not really looking at enough history, but selectively recalling the three spikes in the VIX that have occurred over the past four years. So yes, the current VIX is of course much lower than the levels during the 2008/2009 bear market, and below the levels during the pullback in 2010 and the major correction in 2011. But it is still a lot higher then it was during parts of the 1990s bull market as well as the 2003 to 2007 bull market. During those bull runs, the VIX dropped to 10 and stayed low for considerable periods of time. Some of the best gains during recent bull markets have come with a VIX reading below 15. So, if we continue to trade in at least a cyclical bull market and perhaps transition to a secular bull market as we have projected, we actually think the VIX could be way overvalued, and showing too much fear.



This report is for information purposes and should not be considered a solicitation to buy or sell any security. Neither S&P Capital IQ nor any other party guarantees its accuracy or makes warranties regarding results from its usage. Redistribution is prohibited without written permission. Copyright © 2012 by Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC. All rights reserved. “S&P”, “S&P 500”, and “Standard & Poor’s” are registered trademarks of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All required disclosures and analyst certification appear on the last three pages of this report

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