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Time To Hit The Panic Button? This Pro Says The VIX Index Is Giving 'Warning Signs'

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Time To Hit The Panic Button? This Pro Says The VIX Index Is Giving 'Warning Signs'

The Volatility Index is dubbed the "fear index" for a reason. The index measures investors' expectations of volatility in the market based on the prices of options. In other words, the index is a barometer of investor sentiment and potential market volatility.

Currently, the exchange-traded note that tracks the index, iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures TM ETN (NYSE: VXX) is trading at $36.55 and is within striking distance of its 52-week low of $35.88.

Investors looking at this index and thinking to themselves clear sailing is ahead for the equity market should pay attention to what Mary Ann Bartels, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management's Head of Portfolio Strategy, has to say.

Speaking as a guest on CNBC's "Squawk Box" segment Monday morning, Bartels said the Volatility Index is "starting to get to levels that are giving you a warning sign."

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Specifically, the index itself was trading as low as 11.02 last week, and when it approaches the 10-level, the warning bells tend to go off as a sell-off could be approaching.

"We have been talking about episodic volatility and you have had it in spades this year," she said. "So although we do see markets trending higher, we do think you can get pullbacks from time to time and they can be very violent."

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