Volatility is the Stock Pick (VXX)
The trade this week was not Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) hitting $500. It's been the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSE:VXX) and today the fund finished up 5.6%.
Since Wednesday of last week (Feb 6th) the VXX has jumped 17%. Last summer we witnessed the VXX increase 109% in 30 days while the Dow Jones has plunged 13.6%. The Volatility Index (VIX), also known as the "Fear Index" has increased 11% in the past 4 trading sessions and hit 21.70 today. In 2012 the VIX has spiked 10% in four trading sessions only twice.
The "VIX" or Volatility Index is based on data collected by the Chicago Board Options Exchange. Each day, the CBOE calculates a number based on prices paid for puts and calls for the S&P 500. This number gives traders an idea of the implied volatility in the market for 30 days.
A direct investment in VIX (commonly referred to as spot VIX) is not possible. The S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSE:VXX) holds VIX futures contracts, which could involve roll costs and exhibit different risk and return characteristics.
Bottom line: Traders are looking to the VXX thanks to the uncertainty with Greece 's debt and everything else under the sun. This 17% jump since last week could be a new trend if the headlines do not improve.