NEW YORK (
Bank of America's
short interest soared more than any company on the
in the two weeks following its announcement it was repaying U.S. bailout funds.
short interest jumped by a whopping 165 million shares, or 218%, for the two weeks ending Dec. 15, the most recent period for which data is available, according to
. Outstanding short interest on Bank of America surged to more than 240 million shares, or about 2.42% of the total shares outstanding, up from about 76 million or 0.88% at the end of November.
Though Bank of America significantly raised its share count during the two-week period, the increase does not begin to account for the huge surge in short interest. Bank of America increased its float by 1.28 billion Dec. 9, when it sold $19.3 billion worth of new stock on its way to paying back the U.S. Treasury's investment under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The 1.28 billion new shares represent a roughly 15% increase in Bank of America's 8.63 billion share float at the end of the third quarter.
The increased shorting activity did not have a drastic impact on Bank of America's stock price, which was down just over 4% for December going into Monday's opening in the first trading day after Christmas.
Among large financials,
also stood out as a major target for short sellers in the first half of December. Citigroup saw a nearly 30% increase in outstanding short interest during the two week period, and its 65 million increase in short interest was the third-largest total on the NYSE.
Both Bank of America and Citigroup were targeted heavily by short sellers in the second half of November as well
Bank of New York Mellon
also continued to be a short seller target, seeing a nearly 23% rise in short interest after a jump of almost 18% at the end of November.
was also a short-seller target, seeing a rise in short interest of more than 22% through Dec. 15 compared to the previous two week period.
Large financial companies getting relief from the shorts ahead of the holidays were
, which both saw drops in short interest of roughly 19%.
Written by Dan Freed in New York
Short interest in financials during the second half of November