Wall Street's Fear Index, the CBOE VIX Volatility (VIX.X) , erased most of its surge from last week and returned to around 12 points after reaching a year-to-date peak of 16.04 last Thursday. But even as volatility is hushed, bears are lurking.

Trading of bearish options on the S&P 500 Index surged to a three-month high Wednesday, according to Bloomberg data. At the same time, the ratio of outstanding puts to calls jumped to its highest level since January of 2016.

The cost of tail-risk hedging, measured by the CBOE SKEW Index, has climbed to the highest level since March 20, Bloomberg data notes. The last time the index reached this level, it preceded a 25% VIX rally that happened in the next month.

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