Wall Street calm shattered as new variant causes "fear gauge" to spike

The Cboe Volatility Index, or VIX, jumped as much as 9 points on Friday morning, the biggest intraday move since February, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It was 7.7 points higher at 26.3 as of 5:40 a.m. in New York, the highest level in more than six months on a closing basis.

Exchange-traded products tied to the index led ETF gains in early trading.

The index, often referred to as Wall Street’s “fear gauge,” measures the implied volatility of the S&P 500 over the next month. Futures for America’s equity benchmark slumped 1.8% on Friday amid a global pullback sparked by a new Covid strain emerging in southern Africa.