3 Charts Suggesting Pre-Election Fear Is On the Rise

VIX put options have been popular, while short interest is rising on SPX stocks

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Oct 26, 2016 at 2:23 PM

Last week, we highlighted three signs of mounting fear in the stock market ahead of the U.S. presidential election. Well, since we ran that article, hints of building pre-election jitters haven't slowed down, based on trading trends on the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) and S&P 500 Index (SPX).

According to Trade-Alert, VIX calls outnumber puts by a roughly 3.2-to-1 margin -- the loftiest ratio since late April -- signaling heightened expectations of greater volatility ahead. Of late, most of this action has been centered on the November series of options, which have accounted for 68% of trading volume over the past five sessions, per Reuters. In other words, traders may be hedging ahead of election day uncertainty.

Also of note, VIX's 20-day buy-to-open call/put ratio stands at a top-heavy 4.77. This is the highest ratio since Dec. 8 -- the week before the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the first time in almost a decade -- as you can see on the chart below:

vix 20 day call put ratio october 26


Signs of fear can be detected on the SPX, too, as alluded to above. Specifically, total short interest among these stocks is higher now than it was before the Brexit vote in late June:

spx short interest october 26

Last but not least, the front-month gamma-weighted Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY), PowerShares QQQ Trust (QQQ), and iShares Russell 2000 Index (IWM) is up to 2.71. In other words, near-the-money put options in the November series nearly triple calls. This is the highest ratio in roughly six months, and nearly doubles the average front-month gamma-weighted SOIR of 1.46.

SPY QQQ IWM front month gamma soir october 26

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