Short Sellers Increase Bets Across the Board

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For the first time in a long time, short sellers have increased their bets that the stock prices of most large companies and in most large sectors will fall. The NYSE and Nasdaq released their figures for short positions as of January 13.

Short sellers increased their positions in all four of America’s large banks. The short interest in Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) rose 18.5% to 186.1 million. The price of its stock, and most other bank stocks, have risen as it appears that the worst of their balance sheet problems have faded some. Shares sold short in Citigroup (NYSE: C) rose 19.1% to 50.3 million. The short interest in Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) was up by 11.4% to 47.1 million. Shares sold short in JP Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) were up by 21.5% to 40.6 million.

Shares sold short in the two big car companies also rose. The short interest in Ford (NYSE: F) was up by 14.7% to 147.1 million. Shares sold short in General Motors (NYSE: GM) were up 13.7% to 62.3 million.

The short interest in almost all major tech stocks was up as well. Shares short in Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), which posted relatively good earnings, were up 49.8% to 101.5 million. Shares sold short in Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), which also posted strong numbers for the fourth quarter, rose 12.2% to 131.8 million. The short interest in Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) was up by 6.1% to 69.9 million. Shares sold short in Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) were up by 40.8% to 27.4 million.

Douglas A. McIntyre