Wall Street's 'fear Gauge' Jumps The Most In 2 1/2 Months

By Mark DeCambre Markets MarketWatch Pulse

Fear is on the rise. Wall Street's most popular measure of uncertainty and anxiety in the stock market, the CBOE Volatility Index , climbed more than 11% Thursday, marking its sharpest daily rise since Nov. 3, 2016, according to FactSet data. The spike comes as the Dow Jones Industrial Average , the S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq Composite Index have staged their worst declines in weeks. The Dow, for example, is on track for its steepest daily drop since October. The pullback comes as investors rethink a rally in the equity market that has been supported by a raft of policy proposals by President-elect Donald Trump, which include looser regulations on Wall Street, tax cuts and an increase in fiscal spending-- all factors that are expected to boost U.S. economic growth. However, a lack of details on his legislative agenda at Trump's news conference on Wednesday may have raised concerns about his ability to make good on his promises. The VIX is used as a way for investors to bet declines in the S&P 500, and its levels of late have suggested that traders haven't been wary of a big drop in stocks, which means a sudden tumble in equities could catch investors flat-footed. Still, current levels of the VIX at about 12.54 may not immediately raise red flags because readings of about 20 are seen as the clearest indication that fear is taking hold in the market. On Wednesday, the VIX also tipped higher on the heels of Trump's conference.

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