By the Numbers

What the short interest surge may really signal

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With stocks near all-time highs, short interest reached the highest level in 20 months, but some investors are seeing the trend as a bullish sign.

Short interest increased 2.62 percent to 14.26 billion shares in the first half of February, the highest level since June 2012, according to NYSE Euronext. Similarly, short interest at the Nasdaq also showed an increase of 2 percent, rising to 7.26 billion shares.

"The increase in short interest as of mid-February is bullish as it signals that there is still a healthy degree of skepticism on the part of investors" says Paul Hickey, co-founder of Bespoke Investment Group. "We would be worried if the market saw some weakness and short interest declined."