Protecting Against A June Volatility Spike

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Market volatility has dropped slightly in recent weeks as measured by the CBOE Volatility (VIX) Index. VIX is a real-time index that represents the market expectation for near-term volatility in the S&P500 index.

Investors and traders have long used VIX as a measure of the level of risk, fear or stress in the market.

Yesterday, the VIX index closed below 12 for the first time since December last year.

The iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (VXX) is a volatility exchange traded note (ETF) and behaves differently to a regular ETF. VXX typically sees large price increase when the S&P500 tanks. However, most of the time it slowly but surely drops in price. Take a look at a long-term chart and you’ll see what I mean.

As traders, we can also use VXX options to place trades that benefit from either rising or falling volatility.

Buying VXX Call Options To Protect Against A Volatility Spike

Some traders will buy VXX call options as a method of protecting against rising volatility. Let’s look at a couple of different examples.

A long call option trade gives the buyer of the option the right to purchase a certain stock at a certain price (strike price) up until a certain date (expiration date).

Suppose an investor is worried about a market drop and associated volatility spike between now and mid-June.

The investor could purchase a VXX June 21 call option with a strike price of $12. This call option contract was trading yesterday for around $0.50 meaning the investor would need to pay $50 to purchase the call option.

The maximum loss is limited to the premium paid, which in this case is $50. The maximum loss would occur if VXX closes below $12 on June 21. The breakeven price is 12.50 which is calculated by taking the strike price and adding the premium paid.

The maximum potential gain is unlimited.


Using VXX options can be simple and cheap way to buy some protection against a sharp selloff in stocks between now and mid-June. The trade can be placed relatively cheaply at $50 for the long call. 

VXX and VXX options behave differently to regular ETF’s and options, so it is vital that any trader using this product fully understands the risks involved. As always, do your own research and due diligence before risking any of your hard-earned capital.

Please remember that options are risky, and investors can lose 100% of their investment. This article is for education purposes only and not a trade recommendation. Remember to always do your own due diligence and consult your financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

On the date of publication, Gavin McMaster did not have (either directly or indirectly) positions in any of the securities mentioned in this article. All information and data in this article is solely for informational purposes. For more information please view the Barchart Disclosure Policy here.