The Trump rally seemed to weaken as the year wound to its conclusion, while many investors and traders were out for the holidays. Yet with markets still near all-time highs, those short sellers got out of the way of some of the most shorted stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange between the December 15 and December 30 settlement dates.
Upswings in the numbers of these stocks sold short were fewer than downswings and modest. In the meanwhile, Bank of America, Chesapeake Energy and General Electric all saw double-digit percentage drops in their short interest in the waning days of 2016.
Note that the top six stocks on the list all still had more than 100 million shares short at the end of the most recent settlement period.
The short interest decline in the previous three periods continued into last month. Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) shares short retreated another almost 7% between the most recent settlement dates. The more than 132.42 million shares reported totaled 20.8% of the float. At the most current daily average, it would take about 11 days to cover all the short positions.
Sprint said in the period that it would add 5,000 jobs. Sprint’s share price ended the two weeks almost 8% higher than where it began it, though it was up more than 13% at one point. The share price has climbed about 79% in the past six months and closed most recently at $8.62. The stock hit a 52-week high of $9.00 last week, well up from the 52-week low of $2.18 almost a year ago.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) saw its short interest grow less than 3% to around 110.19 million shares by the end of the month. That was the second lowest number of shares short since August, as well as 4.6% of the float. As of the most recent settlement date, it would take about 13 days to cover all short positions.
Alibaba is chasing Amazon and Microsoft with its cloud services business. Short sellers watched the share price see-saw between the settlement dates and end with about a 1% decline. The stock closed most recently at $96.93, which is more than 18% higher than six months ago. The 52-week trading range is $59.25 to $109.87.
Bank of America
A nearly 22% reduction in Bank of America Corp.’s (NYSE: BAC) number of shares short brought it to the lowest number since September. The more than 108.07 million shares short at the end of the latest period represented 1.1% of the money center bank’s float. The average daily trading volume dropped sharply, but the days to cover remained at less than one.
This bank seems set to benefit from higher rates ahead. Short sellers watched the shares retreat more than 4% in the short interest period, while the S&P 500 slipped about 1% in that time. The stock has changed hands between $10.99 and $23.39 a share in the past year, and it closed at $23.07 on Wednesday.