Rough seas: Stock volatility here to stay

stocks markets turbulence volatility

Don't throw away that Dramamine yet.

Investors have been battling rough seas on all fronts. Triple-digit moves for the Dow, up or down, are becoming the norm.

Volatility is rippling through commodities, with crude oil continuing its meltdown below $45 a barrel and copper prices plunging as well. Crazy moves in the bond market have left many countries with negative interest rate yields and Swiss central bankers sent the currency market into its own vortex.

The bad news is the smart guys and gals on Wall Street believe the wild stock market ride will continue for the foreseeable future.

"I don't see this volatility going away anytime soon," said Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist at the Wells Fargo Investment Institute.

He sees the dramatic swings in energy, fixed-income and metals as "red flags" signaling that investors have serious "doubts about the global economy."

The good news is that despite the whiplash, stocks are down only slightly this year. The Dow and S&P 500 are both off less than 2% in 2015.

Related: Falling oil's next victim: banks

Fed, earnings loom: Investors also remain antsy about when the Federal Reserve will attempt to slowly hike rates after years of keeping them incredibly low.

That alone would normally be enough to keep stocks choppy.

This week offers countless catalysts to keep the turbulence going. While the stock market is closed on Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, dozens of companies are reporting results this week, including American Express (AXP), eBay (EBAY), IBM (IBM), McDonald's (MCD), Netflix (NFLX) and Starbucks (SBUX). Investors will be sifting through these reports to get a pulse on the global economy.

The main event isn't even scheduled until Thursday when the European Central Bank is widely expected to signal a new stimulus program that includes buying sovereign bonds. If Mario Draghi fails to deliver, stocks and bonds could erupt in a temper tantrum.

Related: 3 red flags causing the market to panic

Massive volatility ahead? Because of the confluence of so many factors occurring at the same time, some investors are bracing for volatility to actually increase in the near future, perhaps significantly.

"2015 may turn out to be the year of massive market volatility," Abigail Doolittle, market strategist at Greenbush Financial Group, wrote in a note to clients. "The massive volatility that has wracked the currency and commodity markets may soon show up in the even more widely watched equity markets."

Doolittle said there's a chance the VIX, the market's so-called "fear gauge," could spike towards 50 in the first half of 2015. That would be a dramatic increase not seen since the end of the financial crisis. The VIX is currently trading at just 22.

Related: Cheap oil can be good for stocks

Friend or foe? However, Wren, the Wells Fargo strategist, said investors must remember that "volatility is your friend, not your enemy." That's especially true if you believe the economy will continue to improve and inflation will remain modest.

"If you buy into that, you've got to look at these pullbacks as an opportunity to put cash to work," he said.

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