The financial sector was a major part of the Great Recession, and it was a major part of the recovery and raging bull market afterward. Generally speaking, the major financial institutions in the United States are a good barometer of the current state of U.S. markets.
So when short sellers make a play against these major banks, they are effectively betting for a downturn. Conversely, when they back off they might be expecting a surge. Granted, some plays are directly against individual companies, like we saw with Wells Fargo early in 2017.
The December 31 short interest data have been compared with the previous figures, and short interest in most of these selected big bank stocks decreased.
Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) saw its short interest decrease to 144.28 million shares. The previous level was 147.89 million. Shares were last seen trading at $25.73, in a 52-week range of $22.66 to $33.05.
The number of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) shares short rose to 22.02 million from the previous level of 21.19 million. Shares most recently traded at $100.39, in a 52-week range of $91.11 to $119.33.
Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) short interest decreased slightly to 20.62 million from the previous level of 20.66 million. Shares were trading at $56.44, in a 52-week range of $48.42 to $80.70.
Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) short interest shrank to 31.07 million shares from the previous reading of 35.53 million. Shares were trading at $47.75, within a 52-week range of $43.02 to $66.31.
Short interest in Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) decreased to 4.96 million shares from the previous 6.27 million. The stock traded at $176.00, in a 52-week range of $151.70 to $275.31.
Morgan Stanley’s (NYSE: MS) short interest for this settlement date was 15.86 million shares, up from the previous 12.23 million. Shares were changing hands at $41.66, in a 52-week trading range of $36.74 to $59.38.