By Markets Media

Competition Heats Up

Last week marked the first week of trading in 2012, with performance among asset classes mixed.

U.S. equities took to the pattern of posting slight losses or staying flat. Major indices began the day with a quick fall followed by an algo-lead climb to positive territory.

Energy has also become a hot issue for traders right off the bat. After recovering from the fallout associated with MF Global’s collapse, they now face a short-term increase in volatility related to trouble associated with Iran and the Middle East, particularly members of OPEC.

Crude oil has has no trouble staying above $100 a barrel spot. The aforementioned events still pose the risk of a short-term meteoric rise in price if the Middle East situation does not improve. That was the consensus among several traders in Chicago late last week.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) shines some light on the sentiment of traders, however. The index suffered several days of consecutive multiple percentage point drops. It is barely above the 20 point level and well under 30 points, a metric that’s considered to be a significant gauge of fear. Should the VIX fall below 20, equity buying could take place strongly over the next few days.

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