Exchange traded funds that track futures contracts based on the CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, are reflecting a tick in market fear as the S&P 500 undergoes a slow sell-off from its historic high.
The iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEArca: VXX) was relatively flat Friday after surging 5.3% Thursday. The exchange traded note is up for the second straight week, gaining 7.1%. VXX was on a six-week down streak before that as the market drifted higher.
VXX declined 33.5% from its June 24 high as the S&P 500 surged over its 1,700 for the first time early August.
Currently, the VIX was hovering around 14.4 – the index has an historic average of around 20.
The VIX, or so-called fear index, has an inverse relationship with the S&P 500 index – as one goes up, the other typically falls.
The current low VIX can be taken as a sign of investor complacency, whereas a high reading reflects greater investor fears.