The 5 Most Shorted New York Stock Exchange Stocks in Mid-December

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Among the most shorted stocks on the New York Stock Exchange, short sellers fled Kinder Morgan between the November 28 and December 15 settlement dates, nearly dropping it out of the top 10 altogether. Of the top five by mid-month, most saw rising short interest in the period, and all five had more than 100,000 shares short

The number of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) shares short rose 8.9% in the first two weeks of the month to almost 279.00 million. That was the highest level of short interest in at least a year, and it represents 5.4% of the float. At the current average daily volume, it would take more than nine days to cover all short positions. AT&T shares pulled back almost 9% in the two-week period to December 15, though they have recovered somewhat since and closed most recently at $33.97. The 52-week trading range is $31.74 to $37.48.

The 5% decrease in short interest in Brazilian miner Vale S.A. (NYSE: VALE) during the period brought the number of shares short to more than 175.81 million shares. That was the second highest number of shares short in the past year, and it would take more than five days to cover all short positions. Shares closed most recently at $8.09, in a 52-week range of $6.82 to $15.59. They plunged almost 24% during the two-week short-interest period, though they have recovered a bit since.

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Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) saw a 2.2% gain in short interest to more than 146.38 million shares by the middle of the month. That totaled 23.2% of the company’s float, and more than made up the decline in the previous period. However, the days to cover dropped from more than 12 to less than nine. The stock’s price fell more than 11% in the two-week period, compared to a less than 4% drop in the S&P 500. The stock is down more than 31% year-to date and closed at $2.65, in a 52-week range of $2.35 to $4.80.

Mexican concrete producer Cemex SAB de C.V. (NYSE: CX) saw the number of its shares short increase by a little almost 3 million from the previous period to around 114.94 million by mid-December. That was a gain of 2.6% and represents about 9.4% of the total float. At the current average daily volume, it would take about seven days to cover all short positions. Shares ended the two-week period more than 20% lower. They closed most recently at $10.26, in a 52-week range of $9.66 to $13.82.

J.C. Penney Co. Inc.’s (NYSE: JCP) short interest grew from more than 99.01 million shares to almost 103.92 million in the heart of the holiday shopping season, nearly erasing the decline in short interest in the previous period. It was 34.7% of the float. The days to cover slipped to less than six. The share price ended the two-week period about 20% lower than were it began. Shares closed most recently at $6.50, in a 52-week range of $4.90 to $11.30, and are down almost 29% year-to-date.

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Rounding out the top 10 are Transocean (NYSE: RIG), Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (NYSE: PBR), Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC), Kinder Morgan Inc. (NYSE: KMI) and General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE). Among these stocks, only Kinder Morgan saw short interest shrink during the period.