Wall Street's 'fear Index' Is On Pace For Its Biggest Daily Pop In a Month

By Mark DeCambre Markets MarketWatch Pulse

A measure of implied volatility on Wall Street on Thursday was on track to post its largest one-day rise since mid-May at its lows, as U.S. equities saw firm losses, pressured by a resumption of selling in the highflying technology sector. The CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, known colloquially as Wall Street's fear gauge was up nearly 13% at 12.01 at its peak of the session, putting it on track to rise by the most since May 17, when it popped more than 46%. The metric, which tracks options betting on moves in the S&P 500 index a month into the future, has been preternaturally quiescent over the past several months, but has had bouts of relative choppiness as investors fret about market valuations and absorb geopolitical developments, including the U.K.'s efforts to renegotiate longstanding trade agreements with the European Union and drama in the White House. Thursday's action comes as the Nasdaq Composite Index , which is on pace to fall four of the past five trading sessions, was suffering a sharp early decline, down 1.1% and on track to post its first losing month since October. Valuations around popular tech giants, including Facebook Inc. , Amazon.com Inc. , Google Inc.-parent Alphabet , Apple Inc. , and Netflix Inc. have raised concerns that those companies, known as FAANG stocks, have risen too far, too fast and are due for a sharp pullback. That sentiment has pressured the rest of the market, which has been aided in its recent run to all-time highs by the tech rally. On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at a record despite a broad-market decline. Those moves came after the Federal Reserve lifted key interest rates a quarter-point and detailed its plans to normalize monetary policy and reduce its $4.5 trillion balance sheet, accumulated during the 2008-'09 financial crisis. An accommodative central bank has been seen by some as underpinning what has been a eight-year bull market in equities. The jump in the VIX, however, hasn't coincided with a clear flight to quality--typically associated with a rise in the fear index. Government bonds, for example, viewed as haven assets, were seeing some selling, with the 10-year Treasury note yield up 4.2 basis points at 2.17%, approaching its levels from the beginning of the week and well off its lows set Thursday. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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