Dow Plunges 1,175 Points with Orderly ETF Trading

U.S. markets plunged Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly plummeting close to 1,600, its biggest one-day point drop ever, while exchange traded fund investors jumped on volatility-related ETFs.

The Dow finished down 1,175.21 points, or 4.6 percent, at 24,345.75.

CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, ETFs were among the most actively traded investments on Monday.
For instance, the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN (NYSEArca: VXX) saw volumes jump to 198 million from its average 24 million, the leveraged ProShares Ultra VIX Short-Term Futures (NYSEArca: UVXY) daily volume was up to 150 million from its average 19 million and VelocityShares Daily 2x VIX Short Term ETN (NYSEArca: TVIX) volume was at 122 million from its average 12 million.

The surge in VIX-related ETF activity is no surprise as the VIX itself increased 124.2% to 38.8, its highest level since mid-2015. VXX rose 60.6%, TVIX gained 67.6% and UVXY advanced 80.8%.

Meanwhile, trading activity was also elevated in a number of ETFs, such as the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY), Financial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLF), iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: EEM) and PowerShares QQQ (NasdaqGM: QQQ).

While the equities market experienced a swift pullback, ETFs more-or-less operated smoothly as usual. Nevertheless, investors who were concerned about a repeat “flash crash” situation could have taken better control over their trades through limit orders.

When purchasing or selling ETFs through a brokerage account, investors can choose among a various order types, such as a market order or a limit order. The options also apply to stop-loss orders that trigger an automatic sell when an ETF dips to a certain price.

In fast-moving markets, the price at which a market order will execute often deviates from the last-traded price or ‘real time’ quote. On the other hand, a limit order could have helped an investor prevent a similarly unwanted run-up. Specifically, a limit order is designed to fill at a specific price or better. A buy limit order would purchase the ETF at or below a stated price while a sell limit order will only be triggered at the stated limit price or higher.

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