Volatility ETFs Jump on Pervading Market Fear | ETF Trends

As the equities market plunged, hedging bets and risk insurance helped the CBOE Volatility Index and VIX-related exchange traded products surge.

On Friday, the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN (NYSEArca: VXX) rose 11.7%, ProShares VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (NYSEArca: VIXY) gained 11.7% and VelocityShares Daily Long VIX Short-Term ETN (NYSEArca: VIIX) increased 11.5%.

The CBOE Volatility Index jumped as much as 29.2% to 30.95 Friday, it’s highest level since September, Reuters reports. The so-called fear gauge has historically traded between the 15 to 20 range. The VIX reflects the market’s expected 30-day volatility, so a rising VIX reflects investors’ concerns over the equities market.

U.S. equities plunged as oil prices slipped below $30 per barrel, which caused a sell-off in the energy sector. Additionally, the financial and technology sectors were also off after lackluster fourth quarter earnings reports.

A recent survey reveals that only 17.9% of investors believe stocks will go higher over the next six month, the lowest level of bullishness since 2005, and bullish sentiment was hovering below a historical average of 39% for 43 of the past 45 weeks and remained below 30% for seven weeks in a row, reports Fred Imbert for CNBC.

The weak investor sentiment has led to large spikes in volatility, “with emotional investors ready to shed risk assets at the slightest whiff of bad news,” Wasif Latif, head of global multi-assets at USAA, said. “Good news, on the other hand, is getting shrugged away.”