NEW YORK (CNNMoney -- Wall Street's key volatility measure spiked nearly 28% Tuesday as investors fret about the deteriorating situation in Libya.
The CBOE volatility index (VIX), or VIX, rose 27.8% to 20.99 in late afternoon trading. The index has jumped more than 31% in five days and is now trading at its highest level since late November.
Investors are clearly getting worried but the fear level is still below 30 -- considered the benchmark sign of investor worry.
At current levels, the VIX is also still way below its peak level of almost 90 hit in October 2008 -- after Lehman Brothers collapsed. And year to date, the index is up only about 18%.
The VIX is used by traders as a gauge for how volatile the stocks and futures markets could be over the next 30 days.
The rise in the VIX comes amid a sharp stock sell off, with the Dow falling as much as 120 points.
The turmoil and chaos in Libya is keeping investors on edge as worries about a disruption in oil supplies sends crude prices sharply higher. Oil prices continued to spike Tuesday.
The VIX hit a session high after Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said in an hour-long speech that he would not step down and would die before being removed from office.
|Overnight Avg Rate||Latest||Change||Last Week|
|30 yr fixed||3.84%||3.80%|
|15 yr fixed||3.06%||3.03%|
|30 yr refi||3.91%||3.86%|
|15 yr refi||3.16%||3.08%|
Today's featured rates:
#AskSeaWorld campaign aims to set the record straight on the company's animal care, but is fueling critics on Twitter. More
Most funded Kickstarter project Pebble Time raised more than $20.3 million. More
Meet Luna, the tech-enabled mattress cover that just raised over $1.1 million on Indiegogo. More