Short Sellers Push into Banks Before They Fall (JPM, BAC, NOK, HPQ, AAPL, INTC)

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Short sellers moved into bank stocks ahead of the sell-off based on data for the period that ended July 29.

Shares sold short in JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM) rose 17% to 33.6 million. The short position in Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) was higher by 6% to 131.9 million. Short interest in Capital One (NYSE: COF) rose 143% to 29.6 million. Shares short in U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB ) were up 22% to 22 million.

Short sellers also increased positions in a number of large technology firms. Shares sold short in Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) rose 15% to 20.6 million. Shares short in Nokia (NYSE: NOK) rose 9% to 112 million. Shares sold short in Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) were up 18% to 36.2 million. Short interest in Seagate (NASDAQ: STX) rose 29% to 15.3 million. Shares short in embattled Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) rose 3% to 70.2 million. And short interest in Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) was higher by 8% to 11.8 million.

Short sellers pulled out of the major chip stocks. Short interest in Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) was off by 16% to 100.3 million. Shares sold short in Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA) were down 32% to 20.5 million. Short interest in RF Micro (NASDAQ: RFMD) dropped 8% to 20.9 million. Short interest in Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) dropped 11% to 15. 6 million. Stocks in this sector have shown strength because the companies are providers to the rapidly growing smartphone industry.

Among other widely traded stocks, shares short in News Corp (NASDAQ: NWS) were up by 39% to 32.9 million. Short interest in Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) fell 14% to 22.1 million. Shares sold short in troubled Eastman Kodak (NYSE: EK) rose 10% to 81.8 million. Short interest in the weakest of the large airlines, AMR (NYSE: AMR), rose 21% to 64.7 million. And short interest in Walmart (NYSE: WMT) rose 13% to 40.7 million.

Data from NYSE and NASDAQ

Douglas A. McIntyre