NEW YORK (
, saw a big surge in short interest during the last two weeks of December, as it repaid $20 billion in bailout funds to the U.S. Treasury.
Citigroup was the most heavily shorted stock on the New York Stock Exchange, with nearly 381 million shares in short interest outstanding during the last two weeks of December, the latest period for which such data is available. The 381 million shares in outstanding Citigroup short interest represents a 26% increase over the previous two-week period.
The fact that Citigroup saw a surge in short interest during the same period it was repaying the government may be coincidental. Though
Bank of America
saw a massive increase in short interest during the first half of December as it was repaying its bailout funds,
did not follow the same pattern. The bank said Dec. 23 it had repaid $25 billion in bailout funds, the same day Citigroup made its announcement. However, Wells Fargo actually saw short interest drop to 52.4 million shares in the second half of December, from 80 million during the first half of the month.
Nonetheless, Wells Fargo was one of the most heavily shorted financial stocks on the NYSE, behind only Citigroup, Bank of America,
Regions Financial Corp.
, and financial/industrial giant
Written by Dan Freed in New York