June 25, 2018 / 5:32 PM / a year ago

BUZZ-Wall Street 'fear gauge' soars as trade tensions mount

** Wall Street ‘fear gauge’ Cboe Volatility Index jumps to 2-month high, as escalating trade tensions between the United States and other leading economies, sends U.S. stocks tumbling

** VIX up 4.56 points to 18.33, after hitting 19.61, highest since Apr 25

** VIX options volume at 660k contracts, with contracts changing hands at 2x the usual pace

** The Cboe VVIX Index, an indicator of the expected swings in the VIX, was at 119.9, highest since mid-Mar

** VIX Jul 18th 50 calls & Oct 17th 50 calls, the two most heavily traded contracts, each with over 50k contracts traded

** 36k each of the Jul 18th 50 calls & Oct 17th 50 calls traded at 11:57 a.m. ET (1557 GMT); trader appears to be expressing a view that the VIX will stay below 50 through mid-Jul and spike towards 50 by mid-Oct

** Long volatility exchange traded product - iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN - up 17.0 pct, on pace for largest one-day pct rise since Feb 8

** The surge in volatility could potentially catch investors unawares; buy side net short position in VIX futures rose to the largest since before the Feb volatility storm, according to CFTC data released on Fri

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