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Short-sellers played their part in the continued market downturn, according to the


short-interest figures for the latest period ending Dec. 15. The number of shares sold short and not yet covered -- known as short interest -- grew for a record fourth-straight month to 4,875,865,244 shares, up 6.2% from 4,591,354,587 shares for the previous period ending Nov. 15. If the market ever begins to sustain a prolonged rally, it could get a boost from all of the short-sellers, who would eventually be forced to cover, or buy back, some of their shares.

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NYSE Short Interest, Last Six Months 2000

Source: NYSE