Oil and Gas Short Sellers Get a Payday

Crude oil traded around $42.20 a barrel at noon Wednesday, up by about $0.85 (about 2.2%) a barrel over the past week. Trading broke above $40 a barrel on Tuesday and has now traded above that level for most of two days.

Of the companies we watch, short interest increased on five of six energy stocks during the two-week reporting period ending October 30. Share prices also decreased on all six stocks during the two-week period.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) saw short interest drop by 12% to 14.4 million shares, which represents about 1.1% of the company’s float. Days to cover remained at two. In the two-week short interest period, the share price fell by about 5.5%. Its 52-week range is $51.60 to $122.94, and shares traded at $82.45 on Wednesday.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) short interest rose by 8% to 50.5 million shares, or about 1.2% of the company’s float. Days to cover remained at two. In the two-week short interest period, the share price dropped by 5.3%. The stock’s 52-week range is $30.11 to $71.37, and it traded at $36.50 on Wednesday.

BP PLC (NYSE: BP) saw a 20% increase in short interest during the two weeks. About 0.3% of the total float, or 10.1 million American depositary shares (ADSs), were short, and days to cover remained at one. Shares fell by about 5.8% over the short interest period and traded Wednesday at $19.00, in a 52-week range of $14.74 to $40.08.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) short interest increased by a whopping 114% in the period. Some 25.81 million shares were short, representing about 2.4% of the company’s total float. Days to cover rose from two to three, and the stock price plunged by 18.2% during the two weeks. Shares traded Wednesday at $35.45, in a 52-week range of $20.84 to $67.13.

Petróleo Brasileiro S.A.’s (NYSE: PBR) short interest remained essentially flat during the two-week period. Some 19.7 million ADSs were short as of October 30, about 0.5% of the total float. Petrobras traded at $8.60 on Wednesday, in a 52-week range of $4.01 to $16.30. Shares dipped by 5.4% in the short interest period, and days to cover remained unchanged at one.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: OXY) saw short interest increase by 4% to 47.5 million shares. Days to cover remained at two, and about 4.9% of the company’s shares were short. In the latter two weeks of October, the share price plunged by 14%. Its 52-week range is $8.52 to $47.58, and shares traded at $11.90 on Wednesday.

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