A round of political uncertainty swept through U.S. markets Wednesday, triggering a spike in risk-off sentiment and bolstering CBOE Volatility Index-related exchange traded funds.
On Thursday, the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN (NYSEArca: VXX) surged 18.2%, ProShares VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (NYSEArca: VIXY) jumped 18.1%, VelocityShares Daily Long VIX Short-Term ETN (NYSEArca: VIIX) increased 17.9% and REX VolMAXX Long VIX Weekly Futures Strategy ETF (BATS: VMAX) advanced 21.8%.
Meanwhile, the VIX gained 46.4% to 15.59 after touching a 24-year low earlier this month.
U.S. equities experienced one of their worst days in months on speculation that former FBI Chief James Comey hinted that President Donald Trump tried to intervene with a federal investigation, triggering a round of political risk-induced selling.
A recent report revealed that Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to end a probe into the former national security advisor, raising questions over whether the President tried to tamper with a federal investigation.
Market players in response grew concerned over Trump’s future ability to push through his pro-growth agenda, including tax cuts, deregulation and fiscal spending, which have helped fuel the post-election rally to record highs.
Consequently, more have turned to safe-haven bets in the wake of the political shake up, including hedges against further market swings through VIX contracts. The sudden gains in the VIX suggest that investors are quickly hedging against any further upheavals over the coming weeks.
The VIX, or so-called fear index, is a widely observed indicator for investor sentiment in the stock market and measures the expected or implied volatility of large-cap stock options traded on the S&P 500 index. ETPs that track VIX futures allow investors to profit during rising volatility or hedge against short-term turns. VIX exchange traded products track the VIX futures market, not the VIX spot price.
For more information on the CBOE Volatility Index, visit our VIX category.