Weekend Review of VIX Futures and Options – 7/23/2017

VIX closed Friday a tad shy of an all-time low while the S&P 500 continues to push higher having gained just over ½ a percent last week.  The curve below does appear steep, but the context of VIX being so low should be taken into account.
VIX Table Curve 07212017

One trader came into the VIX pit mid-day on Friday with what could be considered a massive trade.  With VIX at 9.76 and the standard October contract at 13.70 someone came in with a three-leg bullish trade on VIX.  They sold 262,441 VIX Oct 12 Puts for 0.75, purchased 262,441 VIX Oct 15 Calls for 1.45 and then finished things up with a sale of 524,882 VIX Oct 25 Calls at 0.45.  The result is a spread that is short 1 12 put, long 1 15 call and then short 2 25 calls for a net credit of 0.20.  The payoff below depicts this trade at October expiration along with an assumption of how this would work based on different October VIX futures pricing half way to expiration.

VIX PO 07212017

Note the purple line and how it basically returns some sort of profit between the current October VIX future level and about 33.00.  Of course, there are assumptions about IV, etc, that go into the half-way to expiration line, but it shows that this trader got some long VIX exposure while taking in a credit that pays off if we get even a minor volatility event between now and October expiration.

Weekend Review of Volatility Indexes and ETPs – 7/23/2017

VIX finished the week just off all-time lows and the VXST – VIX – VXV – VXMT curve shifted lower.  This is a result of realized volatility for S&P 500 price action remaining low and there not appearing to be any speed bumps on the horizon for the financial markets.

VXST VIX VXV VXMT 07212017

VVIX dipped below 80.00 to finish the week and TYVIX is near all-time lows despite there being an FOMC meeting this Wednesday.  The long funds continue to suffer (discussed a little more shortly) and the short funds are having nothing short of a stellar year.

VXX Table 07212017

To be specific SVXY is now up 99.96% for the year.  I know that rounds to 100.0%, but since it fell short of a double I rounded down this week.

VXX SVXY UVXY 07122017

GS and IBM reported earnings last week and their presence at the bottom of the table below is a result of a post earnings volatility crush.  Note GOOG, AAPL, and AMZN are near the top of the table as they are yet to report.  The rise in VXN may also be attributed to earnings as just a handful of stocks contribute to a big portion of price action in the Nasdaq-100.

Vol Indexes 07212017

We know the long VIX related ETPs tend to move down over time.  Apparently, someone decided that this sort of behavior was going to kick in between the open and the close on Friday for UVXY.  Two seconds into the day on Friday someone sold 200 UVXY Jul 21st 30 Calls for 0.80 and purchased 200 UVXY UVXY Jul 21st 34 Calls for 0.25 taking in a net credit of 0.65.  The payoff on the close yesterday appears below.

UVXY PO

Note that this trade worked out quite well with UVXY finishing the day at 29.79 and both options expiring with no value.  I was webcasting last week and got a question about selling options on the Friday of expiration, this is a bit of a deviation of that sort of activity, but a deviation that worked pretty well.

Weekend Review of VIX Futures and Options – 7/16/2017

VIX finished the week at the lowest close since 1993, but the two lower closes came during a holiday week so I’m considering consulting with other VIX watchers with respect to if this is basically an all-time low.  Note the dramatic move in the July contract that goes off the board on the open Monday.

VIX Table Chart 07142017

The most exciting activity we got from VIX came around lunchtime on Tuesday.  Many traders may have miss VIX running to the mid-11’s and the July contract trading around 12.50.  At least one nimble trader pulled themselves away from Amazon Prime day shopping and caught a good purchase in VIX Put options.  They managed to buy the VIX Jul 19th 14.00 Puts for 1.80.  With VIX around 11.50 this trade had a break-even just above the spot index with just over a week to go until expiration.

VIX PO 07142017

This trade looked pretty good as of Friday with VIX down at 9.51 and the July contract finishing about a point higher.  The bid side on the close for this option was 3.40 for a potentially unrealized gain of 1.60.

Weekend Review of Volatility Indexes and ETPs – 7/16/2017

We only have data going back to the 2007 – 2008 period for the non-VIX SPX related indexes on the diagram below.  VXST, VXV, and VXMT all made all-time lows, based on the history we have to work with, on the close Friday.  VIX closing at 9.51 was the third lowest on record.  However, the two instances of lower closing prices for VIX occurred on December 22nd and 23rd of 1993 (9.38 and 9.41).  In December 1993, the 24th was a market holiday as Christmas fell on the 25th.  Also, options expiring on January 21, 1994 dominated the VIX calculation as there was just under 30 days left until that expiration. There were three market holidays between the days where VIX closed lower that this past Friday and the third Friday of January.  We know holidays take a little bit out of VIX, we see it every December and often before three-day weekends.  Since there are no holidays between now and the two option series feeding into VIX (August 11th and August 18th) I’m going to say the VIX closing price on Friday counts as an all-time low, with an asterisk followed by the previous explanation.

VXST VIX VXV VXMT 07142017

The week was tough for long funds and good for short funds.  VMIN continues to have a great 2017 and added over 11% to that year.  VSTOXX is low which contributed to over a 9% move in the upstart EXIV ETN.  Finally, TYVIX is testing all-time lows at 3.75.

VXX Table 07142017

SVXY is on path for an easy double in 2017 as long as we don’t get a catastrophic market event in the next few months while VXX and UVXY performance continues to languish.  As a quick reminder, UVXY is set for a reverse split this coming week.

VXX SVXY UVXY 07142017

The table below shows how volatility is under pressure across the board.  VXIBM and VXAZN moving up are both a function of a pending earnings announcement.  GVZ snuck in an all-time low in late June, which I missed, and at 11.11 is amazingly low when you read about geopolitical issues.

Vol Index Prices 07142017

As the trading week had about an hour left and VXX was trading at 12.01 someone came into the VIX Pit (VXX options trade there too) with a bullish VXX trade that has a pretty interesting time-frame.  The trader sold the VXX Sep 1st 14 Puts for 2.54 and bought the VXX Sep 1st 12.50 Puts for 1.34 and a net credit of 1.20.  The risk for this trade is 0.30 if VXX is at or below 12.50 on the close September 1st.  Basically, for this trade to make money we need a volatility event (or two) that pushes VXX up to around the short strike prices of 14.00. The payout diagram below shows the payoff at expiration, but also includes a half way to expiration line since I believe our put spread seller would be inclined to take profits on any sort of volatility spike.

VXX Po 07142017

Award-Winning PUT Index Now Has 31-Year Price History with Strong Risk-Adjusted Returns

Over the past couple of years more investors have expressed interest in the cash-secured put writing strategy. The leading performance benchmark for this strategy is the CBOE S&P 500 PutWrite Index (PUT), an index that measures the performance of a hypothetical portfolio that sells one-month S&P 500® Index (SPX) put options against collateralized cash reserves held in a money market account.

HIGHER RETURNS AND LOWER VOLATILITY

Note in the bar charts that the PUT Index had higher returns and lower volatility than the other six benchmark indexes, and put option writing (as represented by the PUT Index) had much higher returns than put option buying (as represented by the PPUT Index). A driving factor behind strong risk-adjusted returns for the PUT Index has been the volatility risk premium; options sellers often have been rewarded because implied volatility usually has been higher than realized volatility for S&P 500 options.

HISTOGRAM AND LESS LEFT-TAIL RISK

In the 31-year histogram, the left tail risk was mitigated in that the S&P 500 Index had 26 monthly declines with losses of worse than 6%, while the PUT Index had only 12 such declines.

NEWS COVERAGE OF PENSION FUNDS AND PUT-WRITE STRATEGY

Below are excerpts from three news stories on pension fund allocations to the put-write strategy.

  

  • Wall Street Journal   (Aug. 21, 2016)
    • Pensions Try a Fear Trade.  Options strategy used by pension funds aims to work like a volatility dampener Some pension funds are seeking to profit from others’ fear.   Pension funds in Hawaii and South Carolina are plying an arcane options strategy called cash-secured put writing. …  Hawaii wanted to diversify market exposure after the financial crisis hit many assets at once… Pension Consulting Alliance first suggested Hawaii use the strategy and currently advises on it, .. The CBOE S&P 500 PutWrite Index, a benchmark for the strategy, … didn’t fall as sharply as the market during the selloff of early 2016, but has lagged behind the rallies. In 2008, during the financial crisis, the put-write strategy returned minus-27% compared with the S&P 500’s return of minus-37%.  CBOE’s calculations of how the index would have performed before its 2007 creation estimate that annualized returns over the 30 years through this June were 10%, narrowly topping the S&P 500. …  ”

 

  • Pensions & Investments   (Oct. 3, 2016)
    • Funds go exotic with put-write options to stem volatility … Hawaii Employees in the spring hired Neuberger Berman, Analytic Investors, UBS Asset Management and Gateway Investment Advisers to run $400 million each in put-write strategies. This was the first move into the strategy for the pension fund. Earlier this year, the $28.2 billion South Carolina Retirement System Investment Commission, Columbia, hired Russell Implementation Services and AQR Capital Management to each manage $800 million in put-write strategies.  And the $16.6 billion Illinois State Universities Retirement System, Champaign, hired Gladius Capital Management to manage $400 million in notional value in a put-write overlay, a move that Executive Director W. Brian Lewis said would result in ‘an income enhancement tool’ … In its paper, Wilshire noted that the CBOE S&P 500 put-write index, with an annualized 10.1% return, outperformed the CBOE S&P 500 buy-write index’s 8.9% and the S&P 500 stock index’s 9.9% over 30 years ended Dec. 31. And for 2015 alone, the put-write index returned 6.4% vs. the buy-write index’s 5.2% and the S&P 500’s 1.4%. …” 

 RESEARCH PAPERS THAT HIGHLIGHT THE PUT INDEX

Visit www.cboe.com/benchmarks for links to the papers below that analyze the performance of the PUT and other benchmark indexes —

GROWTH IN VOLUME FOR S&P 500 OPTIONS

Average daily volume for S&P 500 options at CBOE: (1) has risen in each of the last 5 years, and (2) has risen more than 1000% since 2001.

AWARD FOR PUT INDEX AND PUTW ETF

On June 26 the CBOE S&P 500 PutWrite Index (PUT) and the WisdomTree CBOE S&P 500 PutWrite Strategy Fund ETF (PUTW) won the 2017 Index/ETF Product of the Year award at an annual ceremony that was presented by IMN and the Journal of Index Investing. The awards ceremony was held during the 22nd Annual Global Indexing and ETFs conference, a 3-day event with about 750 financial professionals (including representatives of CBOE, Bats, S&P Dow Jones Indices, and ETF.com) in attendance.

Representatives of both CBOE and S&P Dow Jones Indices celebrated the award for the 2017 Index/ETF Product of the Year.

MORE INFORMATION

The microsite for the PUT Index is at www.cboe.com/PUT.

For more information on dozens of CBOE benchmark indexes, please visit www.cboe.com/benchmarks for research papers and price charts,

If you would like to hear expert speakers discuss options and volatility, please visit www.cboermc.com to learn more about these upcoming CBOE Risk Management Conferences —

  • RMC EUROPE 2017, Sept. 11 – 13, 2017, The Grove Hotel, Chandler’s Cross, Hertfordshire, UK

 

  • RMC ASIA 2017, Dec 5 – 6, 2017, Conrad Hong Kong, Hong Kong

 

  • RMC US 2017, March 7 – 9, 2018, Hyatt Regency Coconut Point, FL

Weekend Review of VIX Options and Futures – 7/2/2017

IX had quite a midweek move rising above 15.00 for a very short period of time before settling at 11.18 to end the week.  Note the VIX action didn’t have much of an impact on the futures contracts which can be attributed to the steep nature of the curve going into last week.

VIX Curve Table 06302017 Corrected

I spoke about the following trade on the Vol Views podcast this past Friday.  However, it was such a great use of VIX Weeklys that I wanted to repeat the trade here.  On Monday last week, with VIX at 9.80 a trader came in and purchased 989 VIX Jun 28th 9 Calls for 1.25 and then sold 989 VIX Jun 28th10 Calls for 0.41 and a net cost of 0.84.  All they needed was a VIX settlement on Wednesday morning above 10.00 to realize a gain of 0.16.  I know the numbers aren’t all that exciting, but this is a good use of very short dated VIX options with an outcome that is pretty likely to result in the maximum profit of 0.16.  Note on the payoff diagram below that’s exactly what happened as VIX settlement for June 28th came in at 10.52.

VIX PO 06302017

Weekend Review of Volatility Indexes and ETPs – 7/2/2017

I’ve been traveling like a madman on behalf of CBOE in June.  I try my best to keep up with the markets when I’m out and about, but sometimes the catch up occurs outside of real time.  This weekend is one of those catch up weekends.  I was aware of the VIX move over 15.00 (who wasn’t?) and that VIX was a bit higher than it had been for most of 2017 to finish the week.  What surprised me was the level of VXST on Friday.

VXST is a measure of 9-day volatility expectations as indicated by short dated SPX option contracts.  When we have holiday weekends VXST tends to come under a bit of pressure since there will be an extra day without trading figuring into the calculation.  Hence my surprise when VXST was elevated as much as it was on a week over week basis on the VXST – VIX – VXV – VXMT term structure chart below.

VXST - VIX - VXV -VXMT

TYVIX up 20% stands out on the table below which is probably a function of last week’s VIX spike being somewhat central bank oriented.  VXX was higher, but VXZ lost a bit of value.  As a reminder VXX owns the front two month VIX futures while VXZ is long months 4 through 7.  The short end of the VIX curve was higher while the long end was lower last week.

VXX Table 06302017

We ended the first half of 2017 on Friday and the result was VXX down just a rounding error less than 50%.  SVXY has a stellar six months as short volatility strategies have ruled in 2017.

VXX UVXY SVXY 06302017

The FANG stocks have been in the news off and on lately due to some pressure which I’m going to attribute to profit taking or more willing sellers than buyers (both are silly statements, I know).  Whatever the reason, the option markets on the FANG (Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Google) have been very active and we have an example of this as VXAPL and VXGOG were the leading gainers last week.  Price action plus earnings season being around the corner contribute to the strong moves in the individual stock volatility indexes.

PUT Index and PUTW ETF Win Sharpe Indexing Award

On June 26 the CBOE S&P 500 PutWrite Index (PUT) and the WisdomTree CBOE S&P 500 PutWrite Strategy Fund ETF (PUTW) won the 2017 Index/ETF Product of the Year award at an annual ceremony that was presented by IMN and the Journal of Index Investing. The awards ceremony was held during the 22nd Annual Global Indexing and ETFs conference, a 3-day event with about 750 financial professionals (including reps of CBOE, S&P Global, Bats, and ETF.com) in attendance.

PERFORMANCE OF PUT INDEX OVER THREE DECADES

The PUT Index measures the performance of a hypothetical portfolio that sells one-month S&P 500 Index (SPX) put options against collateralized cash reserves held in a money market account.

As shown in the three charts below, over more than three decades the PUT Index had higher returns and lower volatility than key benchmark indexes for stocks, Treasury bonds and commodities. In addition, papers by Bondarenko (2016)Black and Szado (2016) and Wilshire (2016) have statistics showing superior risk-adjusted returns and lower drawdowns for the PUT Index.

Note in the bar charts that put option writing (a represented by the PUT Index) had higher returns than put option buying (as represented by the PPUT Index). A driving factor behind strong risk-adjusted returns for the PUT Index has been the volatility risk premium.

VOLATILITY RISK PREMIUM – RICHLY PRICED INDEX OPTIONS

An inquiring investor might ask – how could the PUT Index have higher returns and lower volatility than traditional indexes over a period of three decades?

A key source of returns for sellers of SPX index options has been the fact that, according to Exhibit 5 in a 2016 paper by Professor Oleg Bondarenko, these options were richly priced in all the years from 1990 through 2015 (except in 2008).

MORE INFORMATION

The microsite for the PUT Index is at www.cboe.com/PUT.

For more information on dozens of CBOE benchmark indexes, please visit www.cboe.com/benchmarks for research papers and price charts,

If you would like to hear expert speakers discuss options and volatility, please visit www.cboermc.com to learn more about these upcoming CBOE Risk Management Conferences

  • RMC EUROPE 2017, Sept. 11 – 13, 2017, The Grove Hotel, Chandler’s Cross, Hertfordshire, UK
  • RMC ASIA 2017, Dec 5 – 6, 2017, Conrad Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • RMC US 2017, March 7 – 9, 2018, Hyatt Regency Coconut Point, FL

 

Weekend Review of VIX Futures and Options – 6/25/2017

VIX was a bit lower to end the week and the curve moved down as well.   We retired June last week and now July is the front month and is at a premium of just over 1.80 to finish the week.

VIX Table Curve 06232017

Before getting into a trade I would like to point out some heavy activity that abounded last week in the VIX Weekly options expiring this coming week.  There was a pretty big buyer of the VIX Jun 28th 19, 20, and 21 Calls paying 0.10 for the 19’s and 0.05 for both the 20’s and 21’s.  A majority of these trades occurred early this past week.  The figure below shows the open interest for each of these far out of the money VIX call options that only have two trading days remaining until expiration.  Adding the open interest for all three strikes together results in over 80,000 open positions.  That’s pretty good for many standard expiration strike and remarkable for the VIX Weeklys.

VIX June 28 Table OI

On Wednesday, there were two familiar, similar, and interesting trades that hit the VIX pit.  They were familiar in structure as they involved selling a put to help pay for a call spread.  They both are looking for some sort of volatility spike between now and late July, more likely in late July than in the near future.  What makes them interesting is they were executed in a weekly or non-standard series of VIX options.  Trade one involved selling the VIX Jul 26th 10.50 Puts for 0.21, buying the VIX Jul 26th 17.00 Calls for 0.54 and selling the VIX Jul 26th 30.00 Calls for 0.15 which results in a net cost of 0.18.  The other trade sold the VIX Jul 26th 11.00 Puts for 0.45, purchased the VIX Jul 26th 15 Calls at 0.68, and selling the VIX Jul 26th 30 Calls for 0.09 which results in a cost of 0.14.  The payoff diagram below shows the outcome for both trades if held through expiration.

VIX PO 06232017

Note both shapes are very similar with a low dollar cost up front, potential downside with VIX hovering around 2017 lows, and some great upside potential.  The thing that gets me is the timing, why the July 26th series instead of the standard July expiration the week before these options go off the board?  If may be worth checking the economic and earnings calendar to see if something specific is scheduled between those two expiration dates.

Weekend Review of Volatility Indexes and ETPs – 6/25/2017

VXST was slightly higher while the rest of the SPX related volatility indexes dropped last week.  All moves were relatively small as we have truly entered the summer doldrums, at least for broad based index volatility.

VXST VIX VXV VXMT 06232017

There’s very little exciting on the table below.  TYVIX bumped up slightly, but is still at very low levels.  VVIX remaining over 80.00 is interesting as traders may continue to take advantage low VIX to get long volatility exposure through buying calls or spreads that put some upward pressure on OTM calls.

VXX Table 06232017

We are at almost the mid-point for 2017 and short volatility has ruled the year.  SVXY is up over 80% while VXX is down a little over 50%.  When a fund loses 50%, you need a 100% gain to get back to flat.  Don’t count VXX out for the year as the underlying index gained over 100% in October 2008.  I’m not predicting that sort of action again this year, but just noting it has happened in the past.

VXX SVXY UVXY 06232017

I mentioned equity index volatility was tame, but that doesn’t mean all volatility was boring last week.  Headline price action in the oil market resulted in nice gains for OVX and VXXLE.  VXGS was the leader of the pack last week which I’m going to attribute mostly to earnings, but also to some bullish option activity that keeps popping up in the financial sector.

Vol Indexes 06232017

Any strength in VXX this past week came on Tuesday.  Mid-day VXX was around 12.95 and a bear put spread was executed when the VXX Jun 23rd 13.00 Puts were purchased for 0.31 and the VXX Jun 23rd 12.50 Puts were sold for 0.07 resulting in a net cost of 0.24.

VXX PO 06232017

This trade was nearly perfect as VXX finished the week at 12.54, just 0.04 above the short strike.  Of course, it is very possible our trader exited this position early, but even if that were the case I bet they were happy with the outcome.

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