How to Trade the VIX and Market Volatility Using ETFs

An ETF can be structured to track anything from the price of an individual commodity to a large and diverse collection of securities. Index ETFs are considered a relatively safe way to invest in stocks and other assets, but they still carry the risk of falling prices during a market crash. Leveraged ETFs and ETFs that invest in more volatile sectors are considered of higher risk and you should be aware of how they work before trading. Always conduct your own due diligence to understand what exchange traded funds are, and remember that past performance does not guarantee future returns.

  • Short selling through ETFs also enables a trader to take advantage of a broad investment theme.
  • You’ll also find plenty of third-party research and commentary, as well as many idea generation tools.
  • Most stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds can be bought and sold without a commission.

Whether you’re after the best-performing broad index ETFs or you’d like to search for others on your own, there are a few ways to narrow your ETF options to make the selection process easier. To screen and invest in the specific ETFs you want, you’ll need a brokerage account at an online broker. NerdWallet, Inc. is an independent publisher and comparison service, not an investment advisor.

For quarterly and current performance metrics, please click on the fund name. Imagine an ETF that invests in the stocks of the S&P 500 and has a share price of $101 at the close of the market. If the value of the stocks that the ETF owns was only worth $100 on a per-share basis, then the fund’s price of $101 is trading at a premium to the fund’s net asset value (NAV). The NAV is an accounting mechanism that determines the overall value of the assets or stocks in an ETF. Redeeming shares of a fund can trigger a tax liability, so listing the shares on an exchange can keep tax costs lower. In the case of a mutual fund, each time an investor sells their shares, they sell it back to the fund and incur a tax liability that must be paid by the shareholders of the fund.

A financial advisor can help you figure out how to do these in the most efficient way. Most brokers offer robust screening tools to filter the universe of available ETFs based on a variety of criteria, such as asset type, geography, industry, trading performance or fund provider. Suppose you have inherited a sizeable portfolio of U.S. blue chips and are concerned about the risk of a large decline in U.S. equities. It also has diversification within the sector and largely tracks the MSCI USA IMI Information Technology 25/50 Index. This modified market cap-weighted index pulls from the entire investable market and includes large-, mid-, and small-cap technology stocks with certain screens to limit the weighting of mega-cap companies.

Getting started with ETFs

Instead of buying individual stocks, the investor can simply buy shares of a fund that targets a representative cross-section of the wider market. However, there are some additional expenses to keep in mind when investing in an ETF. Exchange traded funds have many features that make them ideal instruments for beginning traders and investors. Some ETF trading strategies especially suitable for beginners are dollar-cost averaging, asset allocation, swing trading, sector rotation, short selling, seasonal trends, and hedging.

Rather than making a single investment at a certain price, you can invest the same amount at regular intervals. This can reduce your average purchase price over time, allowing you to take advantage of market dips to turn a profit, although there is always the risk of making a loss. ETF options are derivative contracts linked to futures prices, allowing you to take a position without the obligation to buy or sell the contract on the specified expiry date. One of the most popular ways to trade ETFs is using contracts for difference (CFDs).

This provides some protection against capital erosion, which is an important consideration for beginners. The attributes of ETFs that make them suitable for swing trading are their diversification and tight bid/ask spreads. Buying and selling of these securities have generated a leadership effect on the VIX indicator and VIX futures different types of stocks contract in recent years due to their enormous volume. You can see this happen when funds break out, break down, and reverse ahead of the underlying indicator. Created in 1993, the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) provides real-time snapshots of greed and fear levels, as well as expectations for volatility in the next 30 sessions.

How to buy an ETF

For example, assume an investor has been invested in the biotechnology sector through the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB). An investor may wish to take profits in this ETF and rotate into a more defensive sector such as consumer staples via The Consumer Staples Select Sector how to trade etfs SPDR Fund (XLP). Swing trades are trades that seek to take advantage of sizeable swings in stocks or other instruments like currencies or commodities. They can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to work out, unlike day trades, which are seldom left open overnight.


A “bid” refers to the maximum price buyers in the market are willing to pay to own it. An “ask,” also sometimes called an “offer,” is the minimum price sellers are willing to accept to part with something they own. The bank account Make the Deal linked to your brokerage account — be sure it has sufficient funds to cover the total cost. If you’d rather have someone do the work of investing for you, you might be interested in opening an account with a robo-advisor.

Indexed-Stock ETFs

The final option that is used when trading ETFs is usually reserved for traders dealing with significantly large trades. These are institutional-type market makers that have the aim of facilitating the buying and selling process of ETFs for traders. Using CFDs to trade ETFs allows you to gain exposure to short-term price fluctuations in specific sectors or countries. Trading CFDs allows you to use leverage to amplify your exposure to the ETF, so you can open a bigger position with a smaller deposit.

You should evaluate your financial plan to decide if any of these types of ETFs are right to include in your portfolio. While VIX futures offer the purest exposure to volatility’s ups and downs, volatility funds attract far more volume because they’re easily accessed through equity accounts. Trading financial products carries a high risk to your capital, particularly when engaging in leveraged transactions such as CFDs. It is important to note that between 74-89% of retail investors lose money when trading CFDs. These products may not be suitable for everyone, and it is crucial that you fully comprehend the risks involved. Prior to making any decisions, carefully assess your financial situation and determine whether you can afford the potential risk of losing your money.

Watch just how easy it is to place a stock and ETF trade with tips on how to choose an order type and order duration. The critical thing to remember is it’s not how much you invest but how early you invest. It allows you to experiment as much as you want without costing you a cent.

The information contained on this website is solely for educational purposes, and does not constitute investment advice. You must review and agree to our Disclaimers and Terms and Conditions before using this site. Putting less of your money on the table means you’re risking a lower percentage of it.






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