Short interest, which measures all uncovered short positions in securities, fell during the second half of February, according to the NYSE. Short positions are bets that a stock will fall, where investors borrow shares and sell them at a higher price, hoping to buy the stock back at a lower price to profit on the difference.
According to the NYSE, overall short interest fell to 12.6 billion shares through Feb. 28, down more than 1% from 12.8 billion shares on Feb. 15. During that same period, the S&P 500 fell less than 0.1%. The markets have taken a turn for the worse since as oil and commodity prices continue to soar. Since March 1, the S&P 500 has dropped nearly 2%, including Thursday's 17-point decline, while oil has topped $100 a barrel.
Several equities listed on the NYSE had rapid increases in short interest during the last half of February, some by as much as 50%. Short interest is one indicator that long investors in these stocks could be in for painful declines.Nokia, for instance, saw short interest balloon to nearly 100 million positions, putting it in the top 5 NYSE stocks with the largest current short positions, which routinely includes Citigroup (C), Ford Motor (F) and Sprint Nextel (S). The following is a list of 10 stocks that saw the largest percentage increases in short interest from Feb. 15 through Feb. 28, ranked in reverse order. This data was pulled from the NYSE and NYSE Arca's top 100 positions, which is released on a bi-monthly basis.
D.R. Horton (DHI) Company Profile: D.R. Horton constructs and sells homes in U.S. Through the company's financial services operations, it also provides mortgage financing and title agency services. Short Interest Change: Short interest in D.R. Horton climbed 8.4% to almost 29 million positions as of Feb. 28. Not surprising, the stock is down 3.4% in the last month. D.R. Horton shares were hit hardest on Feb. 22 after the S&P Case-Shiller 20-city index -- a key read on the housing sector -- fell 2.4% from a year ago.
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