NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Shares of solar equipment maker GT Solar ( SOLR) hit a new 52-week high on Wednesday, as shares gained as much as 9% hitting $10.36 during afternoon trading. GT Solar shares settled for a gain of 6% at the close on almost twice the 3.5 million share average trading volume for the solar equipment stock.

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There was no apparent single news item to spark the rally in GT Solar shares. However, GT Solar is a constant solar industry name mentioned in the M&A rumors that circulate repeatedly within the solar and semiconductor industries.

Wunderlich Securities analyst Theodore O'Neill released an alternative energy outlook piece on Wednesday listing GT Solar among the stocks that will benefit from heavy customer exposure in China.

The last time GT Solar shares spiked to this extent, on Dec. 8, it was within 24 hours of news out of Asia, regarding big equipment sales to a major Korean market player, OCI. At that point, GT Solar shares hit what was a fresh 52-week high, at $9.41.

More recently, GT Solar announced a sale to Chinese solar low-cost module vendor Trina Solar ( TSL).

GT Solar CEO Thomas Gutierrez recently sold a sizable chunk of his insider stake in GT Solar, after it hit its December 52-week high.

The GT Solar CEO also recently joined the board of LED and solar equipment maker, Veeco Instruments ( VECO), which is one of the names that often comes up in the same semi/solar M&A rumors as GT Solar.

GT Solar and Veeco are always among the takeover candidates in M&A rumors involving the big semiconductor market players, like Applied Materials ( AMAT) and Novellus ( NVLS).

There were unsubstantiated reports in the German press on Wednesday that China's Yingli Green Energy ( YGE) was pursuing an acquisition of Roth & Rau, the German maker of equipment used to coat solar panels, which the German company refuted.

Short interest on outstanding GT Solar shares remains high, with roughly one-quarter of its 40 million shares held by short investors. As of the last Nasdaq short interest report on Dec. 15, there were 11.8 million shorts against GT Solar.

Veeco shares were up by 1% on Wednesday, though trading was light even as Credit Agricole upgraded the equipment stock to a buy rating.

Solar equipment maker Amtech Systems ( ASYS) also had among the largest gains in solar on Wednesday, up 3.5%, but it was on light trading volume.

The only other solar stock showing a sizable gain on Wednesday was China's Jinko Solar ( JKS), and trading volume in Jinko shares did not suggest a big conviction buy. Also, Jinko Solar shares are down 30% over the past three months.

From a technical trader's perspective, what might be most notable in the GT Solar heavy action on Wednesday was that even after falling from the intraday high, shares managed to stay above the $10 level, literally just above it, at $10.01. GT Solar shares have only hit the $10 mark once in the past year, and it didn't hold that level after reaching an intraday $10 mark in November.

-- Written by Eric Rosenbaum from New York.


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