Volatility investors are betting that big swings are here to stay.

Those who dabble in derivatives tied to the CBOE Volatility Index are placing bets that pay out if the stock market keeps swinging, and especially if it drops.

The VIX futures curve rose sharply Thursday and was in “backwardation,” meaning that investors are paying more for short-term protection than protection over the next several months. That’s been the case for much of the year amid steep declines in stocks, but is still worth pointing out.

Typically, the VIX curve slopes upward, as there’s a greater chance of stock swings that would boost the level of the VIX over the long run.

Trading was busy in the VIX pit at the CBOE earlier in the session, and investors continued to buy VIX call options that reflect view that the so-called fear gauge will remain elevated, said Dominic Salvino, a VIX options specialist at Group One Trading

The VIX rose 8.1% to 28.42 in recent action, on track to close at its highest level since September.

The most-active VIX option is a call that, if purchased, would turn a profit if the VIX rises above 30 by mid-March, according to Trade Alert.

The VIX has a 10-year average of 20.5. Back in the late-summer turmoil, the index pushed above 30.


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