Short Interest in Energy Stocks Follows Oil Prices Higher

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Crude oil traded at around $59.50 a barrel early Wednesday. Over the past month, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude has risen from about $56 to around $60 a barrel. Until recently, the climb in WTI prices has been fairly steady. Traders now have begun to question just how tight supplies are likely to become given an anticipated slowdown in the global economy.

Of the companies we watch, short interest rose on all six energy stocks during the two-week reporting period ending March 15.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) saw short interest rise by 21.3% to 19.24 million shares, which represents about 1% of the company’s float. Days to cover rang in at three. In the two-week short interest period, the stock’s share price increased by about 5.2%. Its 52-week range is $100.22 to $131.08, and it closed at $124.03 on Tuesday, up about 1% for the day.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) short interest jumped by 34.2% to 43.3 million shares, or 1% of the company’s float. In the short interest period, the share price increased by about 1.6%. The stock’s 52-week trading range is $64.65 to $87.36, and shares closed at $80.96 on Tuesday, up about 1.3% for the day. Days to cover were three.

BP PLC (NYSE: BP) saw an increase of 22.9% in short interest during the two weeks to March 15. Some 0.6% of the total float, or 6.29 million shares, were short, and days to cover came in at one. The company’s shares traded up about 2.8% over the period, and shares closed Tuesday at $43.82, up about 0.7% for the day, in a 52-week range of $36.28 to $47.83.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) short interest rose by 12% in the first two weeks of March. Some 12.9 million shares were short, representing 1.1% of the company’s total float. Days to cover totaled one, and the stock price dipped by just 0.1% during the period. Shares closed Monday at $68.56, up about 2.2% for the day, in a 52-week range of $56.57 to $80.24.

Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (NYSE: PBR), or Petrobras, posted a rise of 1.9% in short interest during the period. Some 24.6 million shares were short as of March 15, about 0.7% of the total float. The stock closed at $16.39 on Tuesday, up about 3.2% for the day, in a 52-week range of $9.02 to $17.90. Shares traded up about 4.8% in the short interest period, and days to cover totaled two.

Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s (NYSE: OXY) saw short interest increase by 7.9% to 11.21 million shares. Days to cover came in at three, and about 1.5% of the company’s shares were short. In the two weeks to March 15, the share price dipped by about 0.9%. The stock’s 52-week range is $56.83 to $87.67, and shares closed Tuesday at $67.08, up about 3% for the day.

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