Volatility Meaning: What is the Significance in the Stock Market?

6 mins read
by Angel One
Volatility refers to how much a security's or asset's price fluctuates. The article below will explain volatility, its calculation, types and other notable features.

Volatility is the pace at which securities prices rise or fall for a specific set of returns. It is determined by calculating the standard deviation of the annualised returns over a specific period. It highlights the risk related to the fluctuating price of the security. Simply put, volatility measures how quickly the value of assets or market indices changes in a given period. Metrics of standard deviation or beta are the tools that are used to calculate volatility. 

The security volatility is analysed to evaluate previous price changes and forecast future moves by investors and traders. Generally, higher volatility leads to more volatility in the security prices. A high standard deviation figure indicates that prices are likely to be dispersed across a large range. On the other hand, low standard deviation values show that prices are tightly constrained within a constrained range. 

Also Read More About Volatile Stocks

What is the Significance of Volatility in the Stock Market?

Volatility is the term used to describe sudden price changes in either direction of the stock market. A high standard deviation score indicates that prices can go up or down and vice versa. A 1% increase or decrease in market indexes often qualifies as a “volatile” market movement. For instance, the stock market is said to be volatile when it fluctuates by more than 1% over an extended period.

How to Calculate Volatility?

Volatility can be calculated with the help of variance and standard deviation (the standard deviation is denoted as the square root of the variance).

Formula to Calculate Volatility:

v = σ√T


v = volatility over some interval of time

σ = standard deviation of returns

T = number of periods in the time horizon

What are the Steps to Calculate Volatility?

  1. Prepare a list of the security’s closing prices for a chosen time frame.
  2. Calculate the mean price of the security’s previous close prices.
  3. Compute the difference between each of the set’s prices and the average.
  4. Square the differences from the last step.
  5. Now, add the squared differences together.
  6. Find the variance by dividing the sum of the prices in the collection by the squared differences.
  7. The final step is calculating the square root of the number you just got.

For the sake of simplicity, say that we have monthly closing stock values ranging from ₹1 to ₹10. One month’s price is ₹1, the next two prices are ₹2, and so on. Now,

  • Find the data set’s mean. This entails adding all the values and dividing the result by the total. ₹55 is the result of adding ₹1, ₹2, ₹3, and so on up to ₹10. Since our data collection contains 10 numbers, this is divided by 10. This results in an average or mean price of ₹5.50.
  • Find the variation between each data point and the mean. This is frequently known as deviation. Consider the following examples: ₹10 – ₹5.50 = ₹4.50; ₹9 – ₹5.50 = ₹3.50. This goes on down to the very first data value of ₹1. Numbers can be negative. These calculations are often done in a spreadsheet because we require each value.
  • Now, the deviations are squared. Negative numbers will be removed as a result.
  • The squared deviations should be added. The result in our example is 82.5.
  • Divide the total number of data values by the sum of the squared variances (82.5).
  • The difference that results in this situation is ₹8.25. To calculate the standard deviation, one takes the square root. This comes to ₹2.87. 

What are the Types of Volatility?

There are two types of volatility, which are listed below:

  • Historical Volatility

The term “historical volatility” (HV) sometimes refers to statistical volatility. It uses price changes over predetermined periods to estimate the volatility of underlying securities. As a result of its lack of forward-looking nature, it is less popular than implied volatility.

An increase in historical volatility suggests that prices of accounted securities will vary more widely than normal. On the other hand, declining statistical volatility will signal a limited and low-scale divergence from the mean or average in pricing.

  • Implied Volatility

Implied Volatility (IV) is a key indicator for options traders, also known as predicted volatility. As the name implies, it enables them to predict the market’s volatility. It’s vital to remember that since it shouldn’t be regarded as science, it cannot predict how the market will behave.

Contrary to historical volatility, implied volatility reflects predictions for future volatility and is derived from the price of an option. Since it is implied, traders cannot use past performance to predict future performance. Instead, they must evaluate the market potential of the choice.

What are the Factors Affecting Volatility?

There are several factors which affect stock market volatility and its securities counterpart. A few of the factors are listed below:

  • Supply and demand of securities
  • Geopolitical factors
  • Socioeconomic status
  • The expiry date of the options contract

What are Other Measures of Volatility?

  • Beta

Eeta demonstrates the relevancy between stock values and the pertinent market index. Thus, beta provides a physical illustration of stock volatility. Beta is a measure of how volatile a security’s returns are relative to those of its relevant benchmark index. A greater beta value denotes a high index correlation and, thus, a high level of volatility or market dependence. 

Let us understand this with an example: if a particular stock has a beta value of 1.3 and the Nifty 50 index serves as its relevant benchmark, that stock will fluctuate by 130% for every 100% movement in the Nifty 50 index. On the other hand, a beta score of 0.5 means that for a 100% movement in the Nifty 50 index, its stock price will vary by 50%. 

  • Volatility Index (VIX)

The Volatility Index (VIX), a numerical indicator of overall market volatility, can also be used to observe market volatility. It serves as a measure of the future bets traders and investors are placing on the movement of the markets or specific securities. A market is considered dangerous when the VIX level is high.

Additionally, traders can trade the VIX using a range of options and exchange-traded products or price-specific derivative products using VIX values.

What is Volatility Smile?

The graphical shape of a volatility smile is created by graphing the implied volatility and strike price of several contracts. The underlying asset and expiration date of each of these contracts are the same. The implied volatility of an underlying asset first decreases as it moves significantly from out-of-the-money to in-the-money or vice versa. After that, it drops to a low at the at-the-money position before rising. 

This effect makes the form appear to be a smile. When an option is in the money, or when the strike price and market value are similar, implied volatility for that option is at its lowest level. 

What is a Volatility Skew?

In contrast to a volatility smile, which is balanced, a volatility skew is more lopsided. It displays the various IVs for out-of-the-money, in-the-money, and at-the-money options.

A graphical skew is visible when one phenomenon is given a greater implied volatility rating than another.

Volatility is the amount and speed of price movement over a specific period. Increased volatility in the stock market is frequently a symptom of investors’ anxiety and concern. Because of this, the VIX volatility index is occasionally referred to as the “fear index.” Nevertheless, volatility can give day traders chances to enter and exit positions.


What is volatility?

Volatility is frequently used to describe the degree of risk or uncertainty associated with the magnitude of variations in a security’s value. If a security’s volatility is higher, its value can potentially span a wider range of values.

What is high volatility?

A stock is deemed very volatile if its price swings wildly, making unexpected highs and lows or behaving unpredictably. Low volatility is exhibited by stocks whose prices remain largely constant. A stock with a high level of volatility is inherently riskier, but this risk is symmetrical.

What is historical and implied volatility?

Historical volatility(HV) determines the volatility of underlying securities by using price fluctuations over preset periods. The projected changes in the returns of securities or market indices based on supply and demand and other important factors are referred to as implied volatility.

How do you calculate volatility?

The square root of the variance of a daily stock price is used to calculate the formula for daily volatility. The formula to calculate volatility is v = σ√T.

Can volatility be 1%?

Volatility is capable of taking on any value between 0 and a positive infinity. This indicates that it might be higher than 1%. It generally is because 1% p.a. volatility is so minimal that a stock with that level of volatility would essentially be stationary. It implies that it could be higher than 100%, albeit this is far less typical.