Wall Street's 'fear Gauge'--the VIX--just Logged Its Second-lowest Close In History

By Mark DeCambre Markets MarketWatch Pulse

One measure of fear on Wall Street on Friday booked its second-lowest finish ever, according to FactSet data. The CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, wrapped up the session down 2.3% at 9.36, marking the lowest close since the so-called "fear gauge" ended at 9.31 in December 1993 at 9.31. The gauge flirted with the lowest reading in history at 9.30, before bucking up a touch. The VIX is based on options contracts on the S&P 500 30-days in the future. The metric's historical average is 20 and it has continued to mostly slump in 2017, with the majority of its readings below 10 being put in this year, as stocks have reached repeated records since President Donald Trump's Election Day victory in November. That dynamic, lower readings for VIX and elevated stock prices, have suggested to market participants that investors are becoming increasingly complacent. Friday's VIX slide came as many major equity benchmarks closed lower, but not far from records, including the Dow Jones Industrial Average , the S&P 500 index , and the Nasdaq Composite Index , which all finished less than 1% shy of all-time closing highs.

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