It was only a couple of months ago that the stock market's fear gauge, formally known as the CBOE Volatility Index, was starting to reach scary heights. But that measure of the market's volatility fell for a tenth straight session Monday, to a below-average 16. The figure is now at its lowest level in two months.
Only twice since 1990 has the VIX fallen for ten consecutive sessions: Once in October 2009 and another time in May 2005, according to a study from the research firm See It Market. Both times, the S&P turned positive for next three months, averaging a 3.1 percent return over that period.
Since bottoming out toward the end of September, the S&P 500 has gained 7.2 percent. If that 3.1 percent bounce holds to form, that would be roughly a 10 percent increase for the fourth quarter - not a bad end to a year that looked pretty shaky for a long time.