Market Overview

There's Evidence A Giant Short Squeeze Is Happening In The Stock Market

There's Evidence A Giant Short Squeeze Is Happening In The Stock Market
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According to Goldman Sachs, the 3 percent rally in the S&P 500 this week could be the result of a large short squeeze.

Earlier this week, Goldman analysts noted a nearly 6 percent rise in the 50 most heavily-shorted stocks in the Russell 3000 Index.

What Is A Short Squeeze?

When traders want to make a bet that the price of a stock will go down rather than go up, they can make a short sale of the stock. An investor makes a short sale by selling borrowed shares of stock in the hopes that those shares can be bought back for a lower price in the future, and the short seller can pocket the difference.

A short squeeze occurs when a group of short sellers close (or "cover") their short positions in a heavily-shorted stock all at once by buying back shares. The demand for shares from short covering drives prices higher, often leading to more short covering.

Evidence Of A Short Squeeze

The battered Energy sector is the most likely example of a short squeeze in recent sessions.

The Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSE: XLE), down nearly 16 percent over the past six months, rallied more than 6 percent last week.

Oil, too, is a particularly interesting case. The United States Oil Fund ETF (NYSE: USO) spiked over 9 percent in the last five trading days, even after the Department of Energy released inventory numbers indicating that the oversupply of oil is still growing.

Individual names within the oil and gas sector show even stronger evidence of short squeezes.

Shares of SandRidge Energy Inc (NYSE: SD), Laredo Petroleum Inc (NYSE: LPI) and Denbury Resources Inc (NYSE: DNR), all down more than 45 percent over the past six months, were all up at least 30 percent this week.

Will It Last?

Unfortunately for shareholders, short squeezes tend to be a temporary phenomenon.

Oil investors are hoping the recent reduction in rig count means production will begin to fall, but inventory numbers show an uphill battle for the commodity could occur in the short term.

Image credit: AsyArch, Wikimedia

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