A Quick Volatility Check: UVXY, VXX, and XIV

A volatile day of trading has the ProShares Trust Ultra VIX Short Term Futures ETF (UVXY), the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX), and the VelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX Short-Term ETN (XIV) on the move

by Karee Venema

Published on Jun 29, 2015 at 2:56 PM
Updated on Jul 8, 2020 at 11:42 AM

Anxiety from overseas has sent U.S. markets on a wild ride today, with the Dow tracking a more than 290-point path so far. This frantic price action is being witnessed in a number of volatility vehicles, including the ProShares Trust Ultra VIX Short Term Futures ETF (UVXY), the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX), and the VelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX Short-Term ETN (XIV) -- which are all making notable moves.

  • UVXY is up 28.8% at 42.69, after hurdling its 40-day moving average. This trendline has been ushering the shares lower since mid-February, providing a big hand in ProShares Trust Ultra VIX Short Term Futures ETF's 68% year-to-date deficit. In the options pits, calls and puts are crossing at two times the average intraday pace. It appears speculators betting on a quick retreat by this Thursday's close are buying to open the weekly 7/2 38-strike put, while those eyeing an extended run higher are purchasing new positions at the weekly 7/2 42-strike call.

  • VXX has jumped 14.4% to 19.85. The exchange-traded note (ETN) has taken out its 50-day moving average, and is also on pace to notch its highest close since mid-May. Longer term, iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN is off 38% year-to-date, and hit a record low of 16.85 last Wednesday. Speculators are rushing the equity this afternoon, with overall option activity running at almost three times what's typically seen at this point in the day. Drilling down, new positions are being initiated at VXX's weekly 7/2 20-strike call and August 17 put.

  • XIV -- which trades inverse to that of VXX -- is down 13.1% at 42.26, and on track to close south of its 60-day moving average for the first time since Feb. 23. Year-to-date, the ETN has added 36%, and topped out at an all-time peak of 50.10 (you guessed it) this past Wednesday. While the VelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX Short-Term ETN doesn't trade options, there's still plenty of skepticism surrounding it. Specifically, more than 70% of the ETN's float is sold short.

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