Short Sellers Back Off as Oil Prices Rise

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The short interest data have been released for the tax day settlement date (April 15). It just so happens that some of the latest short interest readings for major oil companies are continuing to push new highs. It would appear that investors who were more bearish on oil made the right bet for the April 15 settlement date.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) saw its short interest fall to 19.5 million shares from the previous reading of 21.3 million. The past five readings have been the highest short interest for the past year. Shares closed Friday at $109.87, in a 52-week trading range of $98.88 to $135.10.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) saw its short interest slip to 39.0 million shares from the previous level of 40.6 million. Shares closed Friday at $86.97, within a 52-week trading range of $82.68 to $104.76.

BP PLC (NYSE: BP) short interest decreased to 10.5 million shares from its previous reading of 12.5 million. Some of its most recent readings are the highest on its 52-week trading range, excluding a spike in September. Shares ended last week at $43.46, in a 52-week trading range of $34.88 to $53.48.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) saw the number of its shares short decrease to 29.0 million from the previous level of 31.9 million. Note that the most recent readings back to December are the highest on the 52-week range. Shares closed Friday at $67.51, within a 52-week trading range of $60.57 to $87.09.

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Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. (NYSE: PBR), or Petrobras, saw its short interest take a huge jump to 146.1 million from its previous reading of 128.4 million shares. The current short interest level is roughly three or four, times larger than it was a year ago. Shares closed Friday at $9.99, in a 52-week trading range of $4.90 to $20.94. Unfortunately, Petrobras may be trading on an entirely different set of fundamentals and sentiment due to its woes in Brazil.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) short interest increased only slightly to 11.6 million shares, up from the previous reading of 11.2 million shares. The mid-February reading of 12.9 million shares was the highest for the past 52 weeks. Shares closed most recently at $79.77, in a 52-week trading range of $71.70 to $101.38.