Wall Street Week Ahead: Political wrangling to pinch market's nerves

Sun Nov 25, 2012 9:56am EST
 
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By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Volatility is the name of this game.

With the S&P 500 above 1,400 after five days of gains, traders will be hard pressed not to cash in on the advance at the first sign of trouble during negotiations over tax hikes and spending cuts that resume next week in Washington.

President Barack Obama and U.S. congressional leaders are expected to discuss ways to reduce the budget deficit and avoid the "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax increases and spending cuts in 2013 that could tip the economy into recession.

As politicians make their case, markets could react with wild swings.

The CBOE Volatility Index .VIX, known as the VIX, Wall Street's favorite barometer of market anxiety that usually moves in an inverse relationship with the S&P 500, is in a long-term decline with its 200-day moving average at its lowest in five years. But the VIX could spike if dealings in Washington begin to stall.

"If the fiscal cliff happens, a lot of major assets will be down on a short-term basis because of the fear factor and the chaos factor," said Yu-Dee Chang, chief trader and sole principal of ACE Investments in Virginia.

"So whatever you are in, you're going to lose some money unless you go long the VIX and short the market. The 'upside risk' there is some kind of grand bargain, and then the market goes crazy."

He set the chances of the economy going over the cliff at only about 5 percent.   Continued...

 
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange at the opening of the trading session in New York October 5, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar