Stocks go high, VIX goes low

Markets have been in a tight trading range for months, bringing volatility to its knees

RALEIGH — U.S. equity markets are hovering near all-time highs as investors this week have shrugged off a steady flow of potential volatility risks, from the French election to credit squeezes in China. The record closes in the S&P 500 grab headlines and provide comfort to those invested in a 401(k), but despite the steady charge higher in stocks since the election of President Donald Trump the high prints now serve to obscure the fact that stock markets have gone virtually nowhere for the better part of three months.The stalling of the post-election Trump bump may have any number of culprits, from policy uncertainty emanating from Washington, D.C. to anemic GDP growth during the first quarter of 2017. A rising U.S. Dollar, rising Treasury yields – two of the three pillars of the storied reflation trade – have been fading for months, creating a growing disconnect with the third pillar: equities.Despite uncertainties lurking around every corner and a long in the tooth bull market, the Chicago Board Options Exchange volatility index, or so-called VIX, a popular measure of risk, has been plumbing historical lows not seen in more than 23 years and is trading at half of its historical average.