Wall Street 'fear Gauge' Touches Highest Level Since November Amid Drama Over Health-care Bill

By Mark DeCambre Markets MarketWatch Pulse

A popular measure of implied volatility on Friday hit its highest level since November, as the likelihood of a key health-care vote came into question. The CBOE Volatility Index, also known as the VIX , , jumped nearly 7% to 14.16 on Friday, pushing it above its 200-day moving average of 13.54 for the first time since December. The spike in the VIX caps six consecutive days of advances in the gauge. The VIX measures market expectations for volatility over the next 30 days. The rise in the "fear gauge" comes as stocks faced choppy afternoon trade, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling by as much as 100 points before recovering some of those losses later. The blue-chip gauge is off 0.1% at 20,635, the S&P 500 is down 0.1% at 2,348, while the Nasdaq Composite Index , bucking the trend, was up 0.4% at 5,842.

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