The ECB finally announces a bond buying program of their own. We will call it Euro QE. At the rate the Euro is crumbling there won’t be much left of the bond buying program in dollar terms as the Euro rushes pack to parity with the US dollar. Stocks love the QE since they takeoff after a whiff of it is announced.
Witness the 5 day demise of the VIX. The near 23 handle on Friday last week was reduced to 16 today. At least in the short term the big moves we have had in 2015 should start to subside. It is hard to remember the 8% realized vol markets of 2014 since we have averaged over 14% since the beginning of the year. Intraday realized is even higher.
I am not sure what the confluence of news was that made folks nervous but it seemed to be a combination of retail sales, no ECB QE and the latest weak data out of China. That was enough to drive VIX into the 23 handle briefly and set the VIX future curve backward to Aug. We did get a close of Jan VIX close Aug however. The vol traders could not hold the Jan too backward overnight. They could not push it lower however so a little more movement is still expected.
2015 is starting off as the year of many swings. For all the big daily moves in 2015, equities have not really gotten anywhere. The post-FOMC rallies are fueled by the notion of lower rates and we run. Then the sad realization of why we need lower rates hits and we sell off. The only think I can say for this year is that the swings are solid and VIX is off the basement floor.
With stocks ringing up another banner year the most unloved asset is making a move into the close. No I do not mean oil. That asset is volatility. VIX is up 1.60 to 17.52 as I write this as players are getting very nervous moving into 2015. The relative volume landscape tells a more enlightening story.
Last Friday we wrote how the SPX ATM straddle was pricing in a level of around 34 bucks a spread, this after the SPX had just ripped up 70 points or so. At the time VIX was around 16. Since then the market has ripped up higher a little over 35 points. The straddle is worth close to 40.00 a spread. Today, the VIX is down to below 14.50 after moving 35 points in 3 days. With 8 full trading days to go, the SPX straddle expiring next week is pricing in under 33.50 dollars a spread.
No it is not a tasty sandwich from the Potbelly shop close to the CBOE. It is a pattern we found in our chat room at the Option Pit. Yeah, Yeah I know you will say it is a “wedge’ but pox on that. It kind of reminds me of a sausage grinder. Meat goes in and sausage gets spit out. In fact one of our clients came up with that. VIX kept grinding with the SPY and doing nothing really.
It is possible we are back to the days when the NFP numbers mean something. Stocks are more edgy lately as the intraday volatility picks up. The 16 VIX right now is justified on the touchy moves over the last 4 or 5 sessions. The bid for volatility today belies something else. I see some unrest potenital from PIMCO but I do not think that is it.
So the Fed is leaning toward 2015 to start raising rates? There is not much different in that announcement as the Fed watchers look to parse all the of the twists and turns in the FOMC meeting minutes. I think that after this long in our plodding recovery market players would be happy to see the Fed exiting. That means things should be getting better, but that is just me.
Close but not quite there yet. SPY traded 199.75 today as the 200 level hangs like the Sword of Damocles over the market. Everything is feeling good and long equity positions are kicking butt. In short living the good life like Damocles envisioned. However, the sword is poised to drop if Janet Yellen cuts the horse hair on rates and down the market drops. There is some weird tension on that tenuous horse hair of volatility.
While I believe that the VIX is not going to 20, I think today's move below 13% might be over done. The VIX has not just eased off the last few days, it has borderline crashed. Take a look at how it looks incomparison to the S&P: