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Trading the VIX (S&P500 Volatility Index)

Trading the VIX

The VIX or else the "S&P500 Fear Index” is a market thermometer measuring the risk appetite of equity investors. The VIX is a contrarian indicator that can be helpful in identifying extreme market movements and potential reversals.


Introduction to the VIX Index

The Volatility Index or else the VIX Index of the Chicago Board of Exchange (CBOE) indicates the expected volatility of the S&P 500 Index Options. In other words, it predicts the future volatility of the S&P 500 stock index. The Chicago Board of Exchange introduced the VIX Index in 1993 but added a VIX futures contract, not before 2004.

The VIX index measures the level of fear or greed in the stock market. In general, investors trade the VIX for hedging and speculation:

  • Hedging against the volatility risk of their existing S&P 500 positions, as historically, the VIX Index is negatively correlated to equity prices

  • Speculation on potential VIX volatility movements

Large institutional investors use the VIX derivatives to hedge their long positions in S&P 500 stocks. This is happening as the market volatility booms when the stock prices tank. Other investors simply use the VIX Index to speculate on high S&P 500 volatility.

What the VIX Really Measures?

As calculated by the CBOE, the VIX presents the market expectations as concerns S&P 500 volatility for the next 30 days.

■ VIX tracks CBOE put (down) and call (up) options of the S&P 500

■ VIX above 30 indicates high volatility and below 20 indicates low volatility

The VIX Formula

This is the generalized CBOE VIX Index formula:

CBOE VIX Index formula

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Read more: Trading the VIX (S&P500 Volatility Index)

Analyzing Forex Market Volumes

Foreign Exchange Market Volumes

Volume is a leading market indicator that can help traders to recognize strong trends and reversals, but also to identify the current market phase and to think ahead of the current price action.

In general, analyzing market volumes can be helpful in:

  • Evaluating the strength of a price trend
  • Confirming the breakout of a key support/resistance level
  • Recognizing the market phases of accumulation/distribution
  • Indicating signs of potential price reversal
  • Optimizing the time to enter/exit the market

The Aggregate Forex Market Volumes

All organized exchanges report daily the aggregate number of traded financial assets (contracts, shares, etc.). On the contrary, the Foreign Exchange market is an OTC (Over-the-Exchange) decentralized market and that means measuring the aggregate volumes is a very difficult task. The Bank of International Settlements (BIS) offer some insight regarding Foreign Exchange volumes.

Here are some key points according to BIS Triennial Survey (2016):

  • The Foreign Exchange market daily volumes average over 5.0 trillion USD
  • Spot transactions reach 1.7 trillion USD per day (diminishing for the first time since 2001)
  • FX swaps transactions reach 2.4 trillion USD per day (Forex traders are showing an increasing interest for derivatives contracts)
  • Outright Forwards reach 0.7 trillion USD per day
  • Options and Similar products reach 0.25 trillion USD per day
  • The US dollar remains the dominant vehicle currency, being on one side of 88% of all Forex transactions (Euro 31%)
  • Five countries (UK, USA, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan) contribute 77% of all Foreign Exchange transactions

Source: http://www.bis.org/publ/rpfx16fx.pdf

Forex Market Sessions and Volume

The London Session is traditionally the most active Forex session and the New York session is the second most active. The London/New York session overlap offers the most volume-active Forex trading hours.

■ Volume peaks between 12.00 GMT and 16.00 GMT

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