A closely watched gauge of expected stock-market volatility jumped Thursday to around its highest level since the end of January as a tech-led selloff dragged major benchmarks sharply lower. The CBOE Volatility Index
is known by its ticker symbol “VIX”, rose 5.07 points to 31.44, a gain of nearly 18%. A close at that level would represent the highest level for the so-called fear index since Jan. 29, according to Dow Jones Market Data. The VIX is an options-based measure of expected volatility over the coming 30 days for the S&P 500
The VIX, which typically jumps during big stock-market selloffs, also tends to fall back during long, gradual rallies, and has remained stubbornly elevated above its long-term average of 19.50 as stocks pushed back into record territory in recent weeks. But a rise in yields and comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Thursday breathed new life into the yield rise and prompted a reassessment of stock values compared against rising fixed-income yields. The Dow Jones Industrial Average
was under pressure and the technology-laden Nasdaq Composite Index
was on the verge of tumbling into correction, defined as a decline of at least 10% from a recent peak.