Short Interest

Treja Vu: Bond Market Starts Year With Third Consecutive "Dash For Trash" Surge

A few days ago, we noted how in light of the most recent temporary bout of market insanity, which has seen the worst of the worst companies broadly outperform risk, one should go long the 30 most hated companies in the US as determined by the short interest to float ratio. We ourselves are unsure if this was a mock recommendation, or the only way to make money in a time when short covering is the only viable trading "strategy." Now as it turns out, precisely the same approach of pursuing the biggest losers has worked in the bond world as well. As the following graphic from Reuters shows, the three best performers of the year in rates, is 10 Year paper from Ireland, Italy, and, yup, Greece, all of which have returned over 4%. The US? Down 0.7% YTD. Why the divergence? Simple - the market is fully positioned for continued massive balance sheet expansion out of Europe which at least for the time being appears to have been passed the baton of monetary irresponsibility. At least that is what the market prices in. That and some ridiculous amount in one the next 3 year LTRO next month (which however does nothing at all to fix solvency, and in fact merely makes the day of reckoning even more painful when it starts - what happens in 3 years: the ECB is forced to do a €100 trillion 7 day MRO every week to roll the entire European balance sheet on a weekly basis?). Whether the market be disappointed, we will known in just under 6 weeks. Either way, here is what bond returns look like Year To Date. For anyone hit by a case of treja vu, you are not alone: this is precisely the same pattern we have seen for the third year in a row. What happens next is well known.

Print-Or-Panic, TrimTabs On The Market's Meltup

As retail investors continue to appear significantly pessimistic in their fund outflows ($7.1bn from US equity mutual funds in w/e January 4th - the largest since the meltdown in early August) or simply stuff their mattresses, David Santschi of TrimTabs asks the question, 'who is pumping up stock prices?' His answer is noteworthy as a large number of indicators suggest institutional investors are more optimistic than at any time since the 'waterfall' decline in the summer of 2011. Citing short interest declines, options-based gauges, hedge fund and global asset allocator sentiment surveys, and the huge variation between intraday 'cash' and overnight 'futures market' gains (the latter responsible for far more of the gains), the bespectacled Bay-Area believer strongly suggests the institutional bias is based on huge expectations that the Fed will announce another round of money printing (to stave off the panic possibilities in an election year). The ability to maintain the rampfest that risk assets in general have been on (and the cash-for-trash short squeeze that has been so evident) must be questioned given his concluding remarks.

Bizarro Market Winning Strategies 101: Go Long The Most Hated Stocks

We discussed the bullish themes (and Nomura's skepticism) earlier today but as the S&P 500 cracks 1300 once again and banks (GS cost-cutting sustainability?) and builders (NAHB Index? context please) are off to the races once again, we thought it might be appropriate to see just how well the worst of the worst has outperformed the market. Using our standby GS index that tracks the most shorted names in the broad market, we see that year-to-date, the most-shorted names are up 5.8% against the Russell 3000 which is only up 4%. Furthermore, since late yesterday, the most-shorted names have doubled the market's performance (+2.1% vs +1% from 1430ET yesterday).

What Rosenberg Is Looking At - Rolling Margin Debt Has Gone Negative

With market dynamics continuing to be virtually identical to the start of last year, many struggle to find what incremental events at the margin may  determine what is not priced in by the market (because apparently everything else is). As we pointed out recently, one such potential factor is that short interest on the NYSE has plunged to practically multi-year lows. And yet the melt up has continued indicating the short covering has come and gone, and at this point it is incremental buying that is probably driving stocks. Yet even that may be ending: since we are looking at the margin, it makes sense to present David Rosenberg's observations on what it is that he is looking at the moment, which appropriately enough, is NYSE margin debt, whose 12 month trailing average has just turned negative: traditionally an important inflection point.

Video And Post-Mortem of Spectacular Carnival Cruise Liner Accident Off Tuscan Coast

To those who woke up on Saturday to images of a massive cruise liner keeled over following a very peculiar Friday night accident off the coast of Italy, no, this was not a prop for the latest James Cameron movie: it is the Carnival Corp's Costa Concordia, which carried over 4,200 passengers and crew, and foundered after hit a submerged rock off the Tuscan  island of Giglio in very calm conditions. At last count 11 passengers and 6 crewmembers were missing, with at least 6 confirmed dead as of last night. Here is what is known as of right now.

Guest Post: Why QE3 Won't Help "Average Joe"

qe-stocks-yields-011212Are the markets already front running a potential announcement of a third round of Quantitative Easing (QE 3)?   Maybe so.  We had expected QE3 at the end of last summer as the economy weakened substantially from the impact of the Japanese earthquake/debt ceiling debate/Eurozone crisis trifecta.  However, with political pressures running high due to the raging battle in Congress raising the debt ceiling there was little support from the public for further intervention.  Furthermore, with inflation, as measured by CPI, already outside of the Fed's comfort zone, the Fed opted to institute "Operation Twist" (O.T.) instead. With the Euro-Crisis on the broiler, another debt ceiling debate approaching, the U.S. economy struggling along as Europe slips into a recession and corporate earnings being revised down there are plenty of reasons for stocks to decline in price.  Yet, they have continued to inch up.  With short interest on stocks having plunged in recent weeks it certainly sounds like the markets are betting on something happening and soon.

Plunge In NYSE Short Interest Explains Recent Market Rally

UPDATE: As an observation, QQQ Short-Interest is at 11 year lows (January 2001), down 43% into year-end

Curious what has provoked a vicious year end (and 2012 year beginning) Santa Rally, which until today had seen the S&P trade higher on 12 out of 15 consecutive days? Wonder no more: the reason is the same it has always been - year end short covering, which in turn has spilt over into the new year's momentum chasing HFT brigade and the occasional retail momo who still has some cash left after covering commission costs. According to the latest NYSE biweekly update, the short interest as of the end of 2011 was a modest 12.8 billion shares, a sharp drop from the 13.4 billion and 14.2 billion 2 and 4 weeks prior, and certainly a very far cry from the over 16 billion shares short which market the market bottom in late September. Also, for anyone wondering why so far 2012 is an identical replica of 2011, decoupling and all, look no further than the SI data as of early 2011 - SSDD. Short covered, and only as the year unwound did they dare to challenge the central banks and to increase their shorting activity.

Goldman's Stolper Speaks, Sees EUR Downside To 1.20: Time To Go All In

By now Zero Hedge readers know that there is no better contrarian signal in the world than Goldman's Tom Stolper: in fact it is well known his "predictions" are a gift from god (no pun intended ) because without fail the opposite of what he predicts happens - see here. 100% of the time. Which is why, following up on our previous post identifying the record short interest in the EUR and the possibility for CME shennanigans any second now, it was only logical that Stolper would come out, warning of further downside to the EURUSD (despite having a 1.45 target). To wit: "With considerable downside risk in the short term, within our regular 3-month forecasting horizon, the key questions are about the speed and magnitude of the initial sell-off. If we had to publish forecasts on a 1- and 2-month horizon, we could see EUR/$ reach 1.20. In other words, we expect the EUR/$ sell-off to continue for now as risk premia have to rise initially." In yet other words, if there is a clearer signal to go tactically long the EURUSD we do not know what it may be. We would set the initial target at 1.30 on the pair.

Guest Post: By the Pricking of Equity's Thumbs, Something Wicked This Way Comes

Commodities such as copper have led the market for years; recently they've rolled over while the stock market surges higher. Once again, either historic correlations have been decisively severed or there is a gargantuan divergence that's about to be resolved. Sentiment readings are firmly in extreme bullish territory, but hey, maybe the market will reward the majority with a rally that feeds on rising complacency. And maybe the truism "volume is the weapon of the bull" is also voided, as low volume rallies may well lead to lower-volume rallies. The market has been acting as if all these signs are bullish. Maybe, maybe not. Meanwhile, the witches are cackling quietly over their bubbling brew, and it certainly sounds like some evil is being conjured up.

Presenting Six Views Of The EUR

As EURUSD leaks very gently lower into the new year (but stocks popped excitedly across quiet European markets that lacked a bond market supervisor to keep them honest), we thought it might be interesting to look at the relative strength of the Euro against six different measures. From FX option risk-reversals to ECB's European Bank Lending statistics, QE and sovereign risk relationships to Fed/ECB balance sheet dynamics, and finally from futures commitment of traders data to EUR-USD swap spread frameworks, the results are unsurprisingly mixed with a bias towards EUR weakness. Between the European auctions (and redemptions) of the next two weeks, and the FOMC meeting on the 24-25th January, we face quite a rude awakening from the low volume holiday week malaise.

No New Shorts In Early November As NYSE Short Interest Drops To 3 Month Low

Following the market drop in early November, it was widely expected by most, us included, that stock shorts would pile in once again, only to be burned by moves like today's, which is more of an attempt to flush out even more shorts by hitting limit pain thresholds, than buying on any actual fundamental improvements. Curiously, as the just released NYSE data, the short interest at November 15, not only did not increase in the previous two week period, it dropped to a 3 month low of 14.1 billion shares, just down from October 31. Which means that there were no new weak hands, and that all the algos who are pushing the market higher on hopes that short covering will take it even higher once a limit waterfall begins are likely to be disappointed. And with fundamentals completely irrelevant, this data update also likely means that shorts will take this opportunity to reshort the market.

Short Interest Plunges Just In Time To Eliminate Natural "Covering" Bid, YTD Equity Fund Outflows Hit $112 Billion

The just released short interest update from the NYSE tells us two things: as expected, the bulk of the rally from the early October lows was a function of short covering, as nearly 2 billion shares short were covered in the past month, a multi-year record, bringing short interest from equal to the March 2009 market lows at over 16 billion shares to just over 14 billion by the end of October, just as the S&P added almost 200 points. Indictively, it tells us that in this low liquidity and volume enrivonment, the covering (forced or otherwise) of each billion shares of stock on the NYSE is roughly equivalent to 100 S&P points. More importantly, now that the market has started its tumble, there are no weak hands left to cover and provide the natural bid buffer when the market goes bidless. Those who are short now, are short for good, and will likely cover far, far lower. Which leaves the only open question of what the EURUSD net shorts will do. However, with the EUR at one month lows, we are fiarly confident that any potential covering there is over, and only more shorts are being added.

NYSE Short Interest Drops To Two Month Low As Weak Hands Have Been Squeezed Out

It was bound to happen: after hitting a two year high recently at (adjusted) 15.3 billion shares, total NYSE short interest, which failed to be satisfied with a violent market plunge and instead got caught in a vicious short squeeze, has dropped to the lowest level since mid-August, or 14.7 billion shares. Naturally, this, coupled with the massive bearish bias in the euro, discussed previously, where covering merely added to reinforce the squeeze dynamics, are sufficient to explain the weak hands covering following the unprecedented near 1000 point jump in the DJIA. The good news for bears: it appears the weak hands have been shaken off now. At this point, even if no incremental shorts are layered on, then certainly the autopilot melt up in equities will be next to impossible to be sustained, and some real, not rhetorical, pick up in the global economy will be needed. Alas, one is not coming.

Short Interest Slides As Market Squeeze Takes Victims

A week ago we showed NYSE short interest, which in the aftermath of the massive slide in the EURUSD (the only real driver of beta these days, and with correlation at 1.000, also alpha), had soared to March 2009 levels. Naturally that left the market extremely exposed to any forced short squeeze, such as that witnessed 9 days ago when based on since refuted, but metastasized rumors, we saw a major flush higher in the Euro, and hence ES, which became self-sustaining once the short covering squeeze in stocks took over. Yesterday we got the latest NYSE short interest update and as expected, the shorts have dropped markedly with the number down from 15.7 billion on September 15 to 14.9 billion at the end of September. And since the SPY has moved from 110 to over 120 in the interim period, it is safe to say that when the next short interest update is released in two weeks, the number will be well in the low 14 billion range if not below it. The question is when the market will start pricing in the end of the short squeeze. Our estimate: at about the time when the EURUSD stops surging on hope and lies.

Mutual Fund Outflows Surge As NYSE Short Interest Back To March 2009 Levels... Yet Stocks Refuse To Plunge. Why?

ICI has reported the latest weekly mutual fund flow data and it is not pretty: the outflow from domestic equity mutual funds of $5.7 billion for the week ended September 30 is the largest since August 10, and is the 6th consecutive week of redemptions from mutual funds, bringing the total outflow YTD to $89 billion, following $98 billion in 2010. This is almost $200 billion in nearly consecutive weekly outflows from equity funds in the past two years, the bulk of which has gone into bond funds. Is there anyone who still thinks that retail has any interest in investing in stocks? But wait, there's more. According to the NYSE, short interest at the exchange soared to a whopping 15.7 billion shares as of September 15, an 828 million increase in one fortnight, and the biggest since the March 2009 lows. There is one difference: back then the S&P was 40% lower. Which means that the bear cavalry is positioned and waiting for a massive market flush... which keeps on not materializing. But that may very soon change...