Wall Street

The Markets Are Calm. Too Calm?


The markets are quiet.

Too quiet.
 
Unless they get quieter.

On a sunny summer Friday in New York City, there’s calm everywhere you look. The VIX, or “Fear Index,” is sitting at its lowest level since early 2007.
 

 
Trading volumes continue to decline. This chart shows the 30-day average over the past five years.

The stock market is an especially placid place. To find a single-day decline of more than 3 percent, you must go back to November 2011. The benchmark’s last gain of more than 3 percent in a single session also came that month.

The number of Standard & Poor’s 500 stocks currently trading at a 52-week high: 91. The number trading at a 52-week low: zero.

And take a gander at these Bloomberg News headlines from the past 48 hours. Gold Bores Investors as Volatility Drops to 14-Month Low. Currency Volatility Slows to Lowest Ever. Hedge Funds Betting on Calm. With the European Central Bank this week becoming the world’s first major central bank to set a negative deposit rate—encouraging depositors to take their money off the sidelines and into different corners of the economy—stock swings are muted further still. To some, all this tranquility is a dangerous thing.

Summers_190
Nick Summers covers Wall Street and finance for Bloomberg Businessweek. Twitter: @nicksummers.

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