Fear index jumps 28% on Libya turmoil

VIXThe volatility index hit its highest levels in a month on Tuesday. Click chart for more on the VIX. By Ken Sweet, contributing writer


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.

The Libyan protests follow what have been mass protests across the Middle East. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.29%4.30%
15 yr fixed3.23%3.29%
5/1 ARM3.33%3.45%
30 yr refi4.26%4.27%
15 yr refi3.20%3.26%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,912.11 -70.48 -0.42%
Nasdaq 4,442.70 -2.21 -0.05%
S&P 500 1,969.95 -8.96 -0.45%
Treasuries 2.46 -0.03 -1.16%
Data as of 7:43am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Frontier Communicati... 6.79 0.85 14.31%
Windstream Holdings ... 11.83 1.30 12.35%
AT&T Inc 36.59 0.94 2.64%
CenturyLink Inc 39.90 2.19 5.81%
Bank of America Corp... 15.34 -0.16 -1.03%
Data as of Jul 29

Sections

McDonald's in Japan says profit and sales will fall short of expected targets this year, as fallout widens over a major food safety scandal. More

Amgen is the latest to continue corporate America's cost cutting strategy, even as the economy is supposedly on the mend More

Bunch o Balloons allows multiple water balloons to be filled at once. Parents are loving it -- to the tune of $645,000. More

Steve Mason, a pastor from California, inherited more than $100,000 in student loan debt when his 27-year-old daughter died suddenly in 2009. With interest and late penalties, the debt has since ballooned to $200,000. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.