VIX up sharply as equities close mixed

Equities were mixed yesterday as the CBOE Volatility Index spiked higher.

The S&P 500 was down 10.98 points to close at 1435.81, near its session slow, after sliding throughout the afternoon. Support is at 1414 while resistance remains at 1461.

The Nasdaq 100 followed a similar pattern as it lost 14.40 points, or 0.5 percent, to finish at 2690.99. It too jumped higher at the open and lost ground in the afternoon, then dumped into the close. Support is at 2620, and resistance will likely come first at the day's high of 2713.

The Russell 2000 was higher at the end of the day. The small-cap index peaked at 851 in the middle of the day and also declined in the afternoon, but it still closed fractionally higher at 847.89.

The surprise of the day came from the VIX, which was up 1.79 points, or 11.5 percent, to 17.36. This was an especially large gain, given the relatively tight range of the S&P 500. But it was near this level two weeks ago and closed above it on Nov. 15, the day that the SPX bounced off 1350.

The December VIX futures settled at the open yesterday, coming in at an unexpectedly high 16.69 . That too was surprising, given that those futures finished trading the day before at 15.55 while the SPX was unchanged overnight.

The January VIX futures, now the front-month contracts, gained 0.95 points to close at 17.10. The February futures were up 0.75 points to 17.85.

The VIX is again above the front-month futures, and its term structure is very flat. This shows near-term concern, but still not a lot of it.

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