01.19.2012

Volume Boosts Optimism

01.19.2012

While equities have been in an extended period of reduced volume over the past decade, equity options volumes have been on the rise year-over-year during the same time period.

That being said, November and December tend to be months with particularly lower volumes in the market, no matter the asset class. January has bucked the trend thus far with volumes improving among nearly all asset classes.

Expiration week always helps of course, noted one NYSE floor specialist. This week has been “decent” in overall volume thanks to expiration and other events, such as the bankruptcy filing of Eastman-Kodak. Economic numbers and conditions have begun to improve slightly, which has also aided volume.

As if volatility weren’t already dead, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) plunged 4.3% and fell below 20 points, indicating that a bull market is essentially in place. Thursday’s rally also pushed the S&P 500 higher to 1314, up 6 points. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed to 12,623, up 45 points.

“Volumes are still light in the new year- not a lot of optimism coming out of a majority of the banks and brokerage houses,” a trader mentioned to Markets Media.

“There is a great deal of uncertainty in the market as a result of not only the ongoing financial crisis in Europe but also the possible oil embargo in Iran and their saber rattling,” they continued. “Greece should be addressed one way or the other by mid-March but Iran is a very combustible situation. Is Israel going to escalate the situation further? Is Russia and/or China going to come to Iran’s aid? Seems everyone is in a wait and see period for the near term.”

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