Another trading session; another big drop in the VIX. The CBOE S&P 500 Volatility Index (VIX) fell another 4.02% today to 11.72. There’s just no fear in the U.S. stock market right now. At 11.72 the VIX is near the 52-week low of 11.02.
It also doesn’t help the trend that we’re nearing the December 21 expiration for call options on the VIX.
A lot of these options, which give you the right to buy the VIX at a set price in the future, are about to expire worthless–as they run out of future. And as they get close to the expiration data, their prices can get really, really hammered.
So for example, the December 21 call with a strike at 16 fell 70% today. This option will only pay something if the VIX climbs above 16. (That would make the right to buy at 16 valuable.) And there’s just about no chance that the ViX will go from 11.72 today to somewhere north of 16 so that this call option is in the money.
Once this series of options expires, traders and the market will move on to the January 18 call options. That’s a reset with a month of future left and there’s obviously a lot better chance that that the VIX will be north of 16 by January 18 than that it will reach that territory by December 21. The January 18 call with a strike of 16 was down “only” 22.4% today.
That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for an upward move in volatility, of course.
But the further out you go now the more the market is willing to believe that maybe volatility will pick up.
The February 15 call with a strike at 16 fell 11.1% today. The March 22 call at 16 fell 8.57%. And the April 19 call at 16 fell by 2.63%.