The market continues to tick lower in the new year, but a volatility measure of options activity suggests that speculators aren't yet panicked about a larger falloff."The market has moved a lot and you would think that there would be some worry out there, but there is none," said Bob Wilson, chief options strategist at Susquehanna Financial Group. "If you knew your house was going to burn down and someone offered you insurance, you'd buy it. No one is out there buying protection right now." That measure of insurance is the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, (VIX) which tracks expected near-term volatility based on trading in index options on the S&P 500. Its recent drop to multiyear lows, which are used by speculators as contrarian sell triggers, has led some to worry that a larger decline in stocks is imminent. The negative start in the stock market in 2005, which has caught investors by surprise, has added fuel to that concern. The S&P 500 dropped in five of its first eight trading sessions, shedding 2% in the process. Historically, more people buy options during periods of market declines. This, in turn, boosts options prices, and increased options trading drives the VIX higher. Demand for options, especially puts, increases as stock prices fall -- a declining stock market is seen as riskier than a rising market. Options can offset the risk by hedging a portfolio and can even reap a profit from a declining market. Conversely, options demand -- and prices -- traditionally decline as the stock market increases, pushing the VIX lower. But many investors use extreme levels in the VIX as contrarian indicators of market tops and bottoms. In 1998, high VIX levels caused by a frenzy of fear surrounding the collapse of Long Term Capital Management and the Russian debt debacle successfully pegged a trough in stocks.