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Short Interest Surge May Not Signal Decline

Wednesday, 29 Sep 2010 | 6:29 PM ET

As stocks surged by more than 9 percent in September, short sellers increased their bets, bringing short interest to its highest levels yet this year.

In other words, the total number of shares of company that have been sold short were at very high levels in September. As shown in the chart below, some of the highest-flying stocks in September had some of the biggest percentage increases in short interest.

So was the September rally simply a short squeeze for these stocks? Not at all, said Kevin Pleines, an equity market analyst at Birinyi Associates. The amount of stock sold short among all US companies represents 3.8 percent of shares available for trading. Short sellers borrow stock to sell in hopes it will come down, which allows them to sell for a lower price to the share holder.

But despite the sharp increase in short interest in the stocks listed above, all of them saw gains of more than 25 percent.

"This leads us to call into question the bears’ suggestion that the September rally is due in part because of short covering," Pleines told the "Fast Money" desk.

Watch the video to see the full interview with Pleines.

Analyze This: October
Shorts are doubling down into October. Insight with Kevin Pleines, Birinyi equity market analyst.

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Trader disclosure: On Sept. 29, 2010, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Terranova Owns (APA), (AAPL), (ARUN), (BMO), (C), (IBM), (HES), (JOYG), (XBI), (FTO), (OXY), (ORCL), (PEP), (POT), (RSH), (SU), (RIG), (UPL), (VRTS); Adami owns (AGU), (BTU), (NUE), (C), (GS), (INTC), (MSFT); Adami’s wife works at Merck; Grasso owns (ASTM), (BA), (BAC), (C), (CSCO), (JPM), (LPX), (MO), (MOT), (NDAQ), (PFE), (PRST)

For Joe Terranova
Terranova is chief market strategist of Virtus Investment Partners, LTD.
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (ABAX)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (ALK)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (AMKR)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (CASS)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (CSVI)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (IGE)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (LDR)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (LPHI)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (MGRC)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (NRCI)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (DBV)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (XLB)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (XLP)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (XLY)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (XLF)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (XLI)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (XLU)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (SUBK)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (WDFC)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (YDNT)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (DLUEY)
Virtus Investment Partners own more than 1% of (DRYS)

For Patty Edwards
Edwards owns (BAC) for clients
Edwards owns (JPM) for clients
Edwards owns (HPQ) for clients
Edwards owns (WMT) for clients
Edwards owns (FXI) for clients
Edwards owns (AMZN) for clients
Edwards owns (SYT) for clients
Edwards owns (VXX) for clients
Edwards owns (SPY) for clients
Edwards owns (QQQQ) for clients

For Brian Kelly
Accounts managed by Kanundrum Capital own (GLD)
Accounts managed by Kanundrum Capital own (GDXJ)
Accounts managed by Kanundrum Capital own (SLV)
Accounts managed by Kanundrum Capital own (C)
Accounts managed by Kanundrum Capital owns U.S. Dollars
Accounts managed by Kanundrum Capital own (TIP)
Accounts managed by Kanundrum Capital own (ATI)
Accounts managed by Kanundrum Capital own (TIE)
Accounts managed by Kanundrum Capital own (RAX)
Accounts managed by Kanundrum Capital own Swiss Franc
Accounts managed by Kanundrum Capital are short (XLF)
Accounts managed by Kanundrum Capital are short (IAI)
Accounts managed by Kanundrum Capital are short (STT)
Accounts managed by Kanundrum Capital are short (FDX)
Accounts managed by Kanundrum Capital are short the Mexican Peso
Accounts managed by Kanundrum Capital are short the U.K. Pound

For Steve Grasso:
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (AMGN)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (BAX)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (COG)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (CUBA)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (GERN)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (HPQ)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (HSPO)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (MERC)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (NWS.A)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (NYX)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (PDE)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (PFE)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (PRST)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (RDC)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (TLM)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (XRX)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners own (SDS)
Stuart Frankel & Co and it’s partners are short (QQQQ)

For Kevin Pleines
Birinyi owns (AMZN)

For Doug Kass
***No Disclosures***

For Joe LaVorgna
***No Disclosures***

For Mike Khouw
***No Disclosures***

  Price   Change %Change
AMZN
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JWN
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