Volatility ETFs Jump as Covid-19, Poor Retail Sales Fuel Market Fears

The CBOE Volatility Index and VIX-related exchange traded funds surged Tuesday as weak retail sales data fueled fears that the economic recovery may be unraveling.

Among the best-performing non-leveraged ETFs of Tuesday, the iPath Series B S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN (NYSEArca: VXX) increased 5.4% and the ProShares VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (NYSEArca: VIXY) advanced 5.3. Meanwhile, the CBOE Volatility Index climbed 13.2% to 18.25, breaking above its short-term resistance at the 50-day simple moving average.

Fueling the market volatility on Tuesday, the Commerce Department revealed U.S. retail sales declined more than expected over July as shortages weighed on purchases of motor vehicles and fears over the delta variant of COVID-19 dampened in-store shopping, Reuters reports.

“It shouldn’t be terribly surprising given how much the Delta variant has gotten worse, and a lot more people are starting to stay home now a little bit more than they have been,” Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at Schwab Center for Financial Research, told Reuters.

Further adding to the concerns over consumer purchases, Home Depot shares plunged after the home improvement retailer missed Wall Street estimates for U.S. same-store sales for the first time in two years. Homeowners were beginning to cut back on the do-it-yourself home projects that were popular during the height of the pandemic.

Nevertheless, the Dow and S&P 500 previously closed at record highs as a strong quarterly earnings season helped allay concerns over a resurgence in global COVID-19 cases.

“The market is near all-time highs so it certainly is due for a breather, but I wouldn’t expect any material type of crashes or corrections,” Thomas Hayes, managing member at Great Hill Capital, told Reuters. “There’s simply too much liquidity in the system, and there’s still confidence that Delta is going to be a transient spike that will resolve itself in coming weeks.”

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