The short interest in most large stocks traded on the NYSE increased as measured on March 14. The figures compare to February 29. Car stocks were hit especially hard. Shares short in Ford (NYSE: F) moved up 20.3 million to 248.9 million. For GM (NYSE: GM) the number was up 19.4 million to 85.9 million.
Despite the fact that many big financial stocks are already close to lows, traders were willing to bet that they would fall off further. Shares short in Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM) moved up 15.9 million to 168.8 million. The short interest in Citigroup (NYSE: C) jumped 7 million to 125.6 million. For Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) the number added 9.3 million to 117.5 million. For Countrywide (NYSE: CFC) the figure was up 9.3 million to 111.5 million and at Wachovia (NYSE: WB) shares sold short were up 2.2 million to 105.4 million.
Other notable financial stocks with large increases included Fannie Mae (NYSE: FNM), up 11.4 million to 78 million, Thornburg (NYSE: TMA), up 11 million to 25.8 million, and CIT (NYSE: CIT), up 10 million to 20.1 million.
Troubled firms that have recently had bad news were hit very hard. Shares short in Sprint (NYSE: S) moved up more than any other NYSE-traded company, jumping 30.1 million to 75.2 million. Shares sold short in Blockbuster (NYSE: BBI) increased 8 million to 57.8 million.
Shorts moved out of Micron (NYSE: MU) where the number fell 4.3 million to 87.5 million, Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) where short interest dropped 3 million shares to 45.1 million, CBS (NYSE: CBS) which lost 2.7 million shares short falling to 29.2 million, The New York Times (NYSE: NYT) with shares short dropped 2.8 million to 30.6 million, and Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) which saw its short interest drop 2.2 million to 38.5 million.
Douglas A. McIntyre