It looked real ugly this morning toward noon. From what I could tell there was enough decent news to push stocks higher pre-open and then the flood gates of selling opened, hitting the momentum stocks particularly hard. The on again/off again saga of the Russians camping out in the Ukraine is putting the market into a tizzy. A near term weak market gets downright ugly when the liquidity dries up after countries start shooting at each other.
Today was a serious test: was the market going to completely give it away, or was what we saw today the bottom. In clear order, it seems that, all other things being equal, we hit a bottom on Friday. Watching the relationship between S&P and VIX intraday, one could see earlier in the day, even as the SPX was hitting new highs, the VIX was climbing. We quickly sold off.
As vol rallied earlier this week, it was noted by a few people that the spread between SPX vol, the VIX and NDX vol, the VXN is at its widest point in years. One might think that with the NDX calming down and VIX moving back to the sub 14 level that the spread would have tightened significantly...it has not. Take a look:
Well, maybe not the next internet craze, and no this is not the title of the next Michael Lewis book. The craze has already come and gone. I like looking at new products and this KWEB (KraneShares CSI China Internet Trust) is interesting in that it has flown under the radar for a while. No options trade on it, (hint: CBOE list them!) but the product moves around pretty good.
So the Friday rout in volatility did not materialize. Stocks dutifully opened higher with VIX marking lower, and then everything went the other way. Today the big premiums we saw in VIX futures got chewed up as VIX Apr closed just about flat with the VIX cash. The VIX line in the sand at 13% is holding much better than Kaddafi’s Line of Death, and seemingly for months longer.
The stock market looks like it has had enough of tepid job reports. There were big hopes of 275k plus jobs, but all of those hopes were dashed today. The happy number was private payrolls are back up to the pre 2008 crash highs. I guess that means government payrolls are not, but somehow we are spending a whole lot more money than we were back then. Either way stocks were a bit grumpy about it.
A topic that is consuming the Pro Chat group at Option Pit has been the relative stickiness of the VXX lately. There was finally a break in the product over the past few days, but for the most part VXX has decayed much less than expected so far this year. I won't trouble you with the whys, but much has to do with how the VIX futures are acting. They just don't decay like they used to.
The market is deciding what to do today after making the big volatility crushing run to SPX 1885.52 yesterday. I can give it a day of rest even for a hyper active bull. The momentum drivers are a little slower today, so that might be part of it. Lackluster employment data, of which there seems no end, and other mixed data have us pretty flat so far.