Short Sellers Up Bets Against BP By 290%, Flee Other Weak Shares

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The short interest in BP plc (NYSE: BP) rose 290% to 25.7 million shares in the period ending June 15 as traders increased their bets that the UK-based oil company will face more problems that will undermine its share price.

However, short sellers moved out of the shares in several other weak companies. The short interest in Sprint-Nextel (NYSE: S) dropped 28% to 76.2 million shares. Shares short in airline AMR (NYSE: AMR) were down 18% to 32 million. The short interest in beleaguered financial firm Ambac (NYSE: ABK) dropped 8% to 71.7 million shares. Shares short in Blockbuster (NYSE: BBI) dropped 17% to 23.7 million. The short interest in Monster Worldwide (NYSE: MWW) fell 17% to 20 million. Shares short in Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO) fell 13% to 32.2 million. And, shares short in Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) fell 4% to 22.9 million.

Shares sold short in Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) rose 42% to 80.6 million. Shares short in Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) rose 25% to 50.4 million. The short interest in Ebay (NASDAQ: EBAY) rose 66% to 44 million. Shares sold short in Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) were up 12% to 27.8 million.

The short interest in Citigroup (NYSE: C) rose 14% to 487 million shares. Shares short in General Electric (NYSE: GE) rose 23% to 73.8 million. The short interest in AT&T (NYSE: T) was up 11% to 61.4 million.

Sources: NYSE and NASDAQ

Douglas A. McIntyre