I know that very few retail traders actively trade VIX options, but for those who usually do not consider this product, I want to highlight the fact that because the VIX expiration calendar is different from the standard third Friday of the month equity and index expiration calendar, this weekend might be an appropriate time to think about VIX options as a short-term portfolio protection play.
Anyone who has portfolio insurance in the form of options expiring tomorrow is likely concerned about what will happen over the long weekend, particularly with rumors about the possibility of Citigroup (C) and Bank of America (BAC) being nationalized. One solution, of course, is to roll those January options into February and beyond. If, however, you do not necessarily want to buy portfolio protection for a full month, then you can get it through Wednesday morning with the January VIX options. The last trading date for January VIX options is Tuesday, January 20th, with the options settled at the open on Wednesday morning.
Equity futures have been trending up over night, but substantial short-term risks remain, with all the uncertainty over the financials, compounded by a three day weekend, followed by the inauguration of Barack Obama coming up on Tuesday. I am not going so far as to recommend the purchase of VIX calls, but I do want to make sure that investors with a short-term horizon are aware of the VIX options expiration calendar anomaly.
[graphic: Options Industry Council]