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A High-Frequency Investigation of the Interaction between Volatility and DAX Returns


  • We are grateful to an anonymous referee and the editor, John Doukas, for their valuable comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this paper.


One of the most noticeable stylised facts in finance is that stock index returns are negatively correlated with changes in volatility. The economic rationale for the effect is still controversial. The competing explanations have different implications for the origin of the relationship: Are volatility changes induced by index movements, or inversely, does volatility drive index returns? To differentiate between the alternative hypotheses, we analyse the lead-lag relationship of option implied volatility and index return in Germany based on Granger causality tests and impulse-response functions. Our dataset consists of all transactions in DAX options and futures over the time period from 1995 to 2005. Analyzing returns over 5-minute intervals, we find that the relationship is return-driven in the sense that index returns Granger cause volatility changes. This causal relationship is statistically and economically significant and can be clearly separated from the contemporaneous correlation. The largest part of the implied volatility response occurs immediately, but we also observe a smaller retarded reaction for up to one hour. A volatility feedback effect is not discernible. If it exists, the stock market appears to correctly anticipate its importance for index returns.