Wall Streetâs so-called fear index is starting to tick higher.
The CBOE Market Volatility Index
or VIX, on Monday climbed above the 20-level for the first time since March 1 on rising uncertainty in global markets.
The VIXâused in financial markets as a measure of fear or volatilityâadded 3.53 points, or 21%, to 20.55 in recent trade, which would mark its biggest one-day rise since Jan. 7, according to FactSet data.
Jitters about the state of the global market, reflected in the yields of sovereign bonds, which have touched record lows, have fostered concerns about the health of markets across the world as central banks employ unconventional measures to boost flagging economies. Bond prices move in the opposite direction of yields.
In addition to government bonds, haven assets like gold futures
Â and the
Â yen have been in high demand lately.
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Markets have been on edge since last August when stocks tumbled amid fears about China and slumping crude-oil futures. Those longstanding concerns have been reignited ahead of a highly anticipated vote that could determine if the U.K. remains a member of the European Union. The U.K. vote, known as Brexit, is slated for June 23, with a decision in favor of leaving the EU threatening to destabilize the European trading bloc.
Among other factors stoking anxiety are a series of central-bank meetings by the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan, which are slated for later this week.
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The Fed will conclude its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday.
Read: âDot plotâ to be best gauge of Fedâs mood after jobs debacle
The S&P 500 index
which had been marching toward fresh records, was down 12 points, or 0.6% at 2,083, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average
Â was fell more than 100 points, or 0.6%, at 17,753 and the Nasdaq Composite Index
Â was off 0.7% to 4,859.
U.S. stock markets were following a slump in Asian markets, where Japanâs Nikkei
ended 3.5% lower.
Exchange-traded funds that track moves in fear, or volatility, also traded higher. The VelocityShares Daily 2x VIX Short Term ETN
Â spiked 24% in recent trade, representing its largest single-session climb in 16 months.
It is worth noting that despite the uptick in the VIX, a measure of the longer-term trend for the indicator, its 200-day moving average, has been signaling lowered signs of market worry over the course of the past year, as the following FactSet chart shows:
Markets tend not to really put emphasis on moves in the VIX until it exceeds 20, but a big pickup in the gauge can presage mounting concerns about the stock marketâs ability to ascend.