Short Sellers Moving Back Into Energy 

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Crude oil traded around $56.12 a barrel early Friday, essentially up more than $2.00 in the past week, but far below a high of $62.90 posted on September 16, the first trading day following the attack on the Saudi oil processing plants. Over the past month, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for immediate delivery has dipped by about $0.20 a barrel.

Of the companies we watch, short interest increase on four of six energy stocks during the two-week reporting period ending October 15.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) saw short interest fall by 6% to 20.36 million shares, which represents about 1% of the company’s float. Days to cover remained unchanged at four. In the two-week short interest period, the stock’s share price decreased by 2%. The stock’s 52-week range is $100.22 to $127.34, and it closed at $117.58 on Thursday, down about 0.3% for the day.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) short interest slipped by 3% to 40.28 million shares, or 1% of the company’s float. In the two weeks to October 15, the share price dropped by about 2.1%. The stock’s 52-week range is $64.65 to $83.75, and it closed at $69.09 on Thursday, down about 0.9% for the day. Days to cover remained at four.

BP PLC (NYSE: BP) saw a rise of 5% in short interest during the two-week period. About 0.1% of the total float, or 3.26 million American depositary shares, were short, and days to cover remained less than one. The company’s shares traded down by about 1.5% over the two weeks, and shares closed Thursday at $39.21, up by about 0.4% for the day, in a 52-week range of $35.73 to $45.38.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) short interest increased by 3% in the first two weeks of October. Some 10.23 million shares were short, representing about 1% of the company’s total float. Days to cover remained at two, and the stock price dipped by about 1.3% during the period. Shares closed Thursday at $56.16, essentially flat for the day, in a 52-week range of $50.13 to $71.82.

Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (NYSE: PBR), or Petrobras, posted an increase of 14% in short interest during the period. Some 26.87 million ADSs were short as of October 15, about 0.7% of the total float. Petrobras closed at $15.90 on Thursday, down by about 2.1% for the day, in a 52-week range of $11.89 to $17.90. Shares traded down about 2% in the short interest period, and days to cover remained unchanged at about two.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) saw short interest jump by 14% to 13.81 million shares. Days to cover rose from one to two, and about 1.5% of the company’s shares were short. In the two weeks to October 15, the share price fell by about 8.4%. The stock’s 52-week range is $39.97 to $75.79, and shares closed Thursday at $42.29, down about 1.5% for the day.


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