Nearly $900 million in crypto shorts were squeezed in a single day as bitcoin surged into the $40,000 region


$883 million worth of crypto short positions were liquidated in a 24-hour span amid bitcoin’s rally towards $40,000.

Data from compiled by The Block notes that short positions on bitcoin accounted for 81% of the squeeze, with $720 million liquidated.

Most of the crypto short liquidations happened late Sunday night as bitcoin’s price spiked 10% to break the $39,000 level for the first time in six weeks.

Ryan Todd, research analyst at The Block, told Insider that given bitcoin’s historically high price relative to past cycles, this liquidation event posted one of the largest total magnitudes of losses in dollar terms for traders who were positioned short bitcoin with margin and futures products.

“We’ve seen this in the past when bitcoin has entered a choppy trading range for several weeks, with traders positioning towards a bearish bias,” Todd said. He cited a $1 billion liquidation late in December when bitcoin broke past $20,000, and a January $800 million liquidation when bitcoin passed $30,000.

He added that he’s not surprised by the magnitude of the liquidations given the nature of the bitcoin market.

“This is business as usual for crypto – a market that is known to be highly volatile and exposed to high levels of product leverage on these exchanges. A perfect recipe for liquidations that can cut both ways depending on sharp spot movements to the up or downside,” said Todd.

As of Monday afternoon, bitcoin has jumped 18% to a 24 hour high of $40,499, according to Coinmarketcap.

bitcoin shorts

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What is a short squeeze? Understanding why they happen and how they work

The back of a stock trader watching stocks crash on screen.
A short squeeze afflicts short-sellers, investors who have sold stocks they don’t actually own, in hopes of buying them back later for less money. If the stock rises instead, the strategy goes awry.

  • A short squeeze is when a shorted stock’s price rises and sellers close their position to avoid a loss.
  • Signs of a short squeeze include frequent buying of a high number of shares being sold short.
  • Buy-limit orders and hedging strategies offer short-sellers some protection against a short squeeze.
  • Visit Business Insider’s Investing Reference library for more stories.

A short squeeze is a stock market phenomenon, something that happens to investors and traders who have acted on the assumption that an asset (a stock, usually) is going to fall – and it rises instead. Here’s how it happens.

What is a short squeeze?

Shorting a stock involves borrowing the stock, usually from a broker, and selling it now in hopes of buying it back later for less in order to make a profit.

A short squeeze is when a shorted stock’s price goes up instead of down, forcing the short seller to decide between covering their position by continuing to pay interest on the borrowed shares in hopes the price will go down or exiting their position by buying shares at the new higher price and returning them at a loss.

The downsides of a short squeeze are significant, making shorting a stock a very risky strategy for all but the most experienced traders.

Gamestop short squeeze example

In late January 2021, shares of a company called GameStop (GME) stock, which had been trading around $2.57 per share, suddenly shot up, eventually as high as $500 – when users of the Reddit website subgroup Wall Street Bets began buying up shares.

This was bad news for short-sellers, who had bet the stock would keep falling. Unlike most investors, who want their stocks to appreciate, short-sellers make money when stock prices go down and lose money when they go up.

So when GameStop started gaining, these short-sellers were caught in what’s called a short squeeze. They had borrowed to support their pessimistic investment, and they now had to pay it back – by buying GameStop shares at the higher prices. Or else, hang on – and risk losing even more money.

As of mid-July 2021, GME hovered around $185 per share. While a majority of Markets Insider analysts have a Sell rating on the stock, it held up well on July 19, 2021, during a selloff sparked by an increasing number of cases of the delta COVID variant. Even then GME closed up 2.6%.

How does a short squeeze happen?

Here is how a short squeeze scenario unfolds:

  1. You identify a stock you believe is overvalued and take a short position. Borrowing and selling shares at today’s high price in anticipation the price will go down and you will be able to buy replacement shares at a much lower price.
  2. Instead, something happens causing the price of the stock to start going up. That “something” can be the company issuing a favorable earnings report, some sort of favorable news for its industry – or simply many other investors buying the stock (as happened with GameStop).
  3. You realize you’re unable to buy the stock back at a low price. Instead of sinking, it’s climbing – and it exceeds the price you bought it for. At this point, you must either buy replacement shares at a higher price and pay back your broker at a loss, or buy even more shares than you need – in hopes that selling them for profit will help cover your losses.
  4. All this increased buying causes the stock to keep going up. This forces even more short-sellers like yourself into a tighter vise. You have the same choices as above, only the stakes keep mounting, and so do your potential losses.

Protecting yourself against a short squeeze

There are specific actions you can take to try to protect yourself against a short squeeze or to at least alleviate its grip.

  • Place stop-loss or buy-limit orders on your short positions to curb the damage. For example, if you short a stock at $50 per share, put in a buy-limit order at a certain percentage (5%, 10% or whatever your comfort level is) above that amount. If the shares rise to that price, it’ll automatically trigger a purchase, closing out your position.
  • Hedge your short position with a long position.You can also buy the stock (or an option to buy the stock) to take advantage of rising prices. Yes, you’re betting against yourself, in a way, but at least you lessen the damages of the losses and benefit from the price appreciation.

Short squeeze indicators

Short squeezes are notorious for descending quickly and unpredictably. Still, there are signs a short squeeze may be coming:

  • Substantial amount of buying pressure. If you see a sudden uptick in the overall number of shares bought, this could be a warning sign of a pending short squeeze.
  • High short interest of 20% or above. “Short interest” is the percentage of the total number of outstanding shares held by short-sellers. A high short interest percentage means a large number of all a stock’s outstanding shares are being sold short. The higher the percentage, the more likely a short squeeze may be building.
  • High Short Interest ratio (SIR) or days to cover above 10. SIR is a comparison of short interest to average daily trading volume. It represents the theoretical number of days, given average trading volume, short-sellers would need to exit their positions. The higher this number, the more likely a short squeeze is coming. Both short interest and SIR are on stock quote and screener websites such as FinViz.
  • Relative Strength Index (RSI) below 30. RSI indicates overbought or oversold conditions in the market on a scale of 0 to 100. A stock with a low RSI means it’s oversold – that is, trading at a very low price – and possibly due to increase; a high RSI indicates the stock is extremely overbought – trading at a high price – and possibly due to drop. Any RSI below 30 signals an imminent price rise, which could lead to a short squeeze. A company’s online stock listing usually includes its RSI, often under its Indicators section.

The financial takeaway

A short squeeze is bad news for short sellers and good news for investors going long. The “squeeze” forces short sellers to buy, raising the price of the stock, which causes them to lose money. Investors (buyers) benefit as the stock price goes higher. As more short sellers exit, the price goes higher causing short sellers to lose more and buyers to gain more.

Watch for any of the indicators that a short squeeze may be coming, which includes increased buying pressure, high short interest, days to cover above 10, or an RSI below 30. Most of all, you should understand that the possibility of a short squeeze makes short selling risky. Don’t go there unless you understand and accept that risk.

‘Buy the dip’ means purchasing a promising stock when its price drops, assuming a fast rebound and future profitsOptions let you lock in a good price on a stock without actually buying it – here’s how option trading worksShort selling is a high-risk but high-reward trading strategy that profits from a stock price’s fallA long position means you buy a stock or stock option in the bullish belief its value will increase over time

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‘Big Short’ investor Michael Burry warns the ‘mother of all crashes’ is coming – and predicts crypto and meme stocks will plummet

Dr. Michael Burry
“The Big Short” investor Michael Burry.

  • Michael Burry predicted meme stocks and cryptocurrencies will plummet.
  • “The Big Short” investor warned the “mother of all crashes” is coming.
  • Burry pointed to excessive leverage as a major problem for crypto.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Casual investors buying meme stocks and cryptocurrencies are signing up for devastating losses, Michael Burry warned on Thursday.

“All hype/speculation is doing is drawing in retail before the mother of all crashes,” the investor tweeted. “When crypto falls from trillions, or meme stocks fall from tens of billions, #MainStreet losses will approach the size of countries.”

Burry added that people’s fear of missing out has propelled asset prices to unsustainable levels. “#FOMO Parabolas don’t resolve sideways,” he cautioned.

The Scion Asset Management boss also sounded the alarm on crypto fans borrowing recklessly to buy their favorite coins.

“The problem with #Crypto, as in most things, is the leverage,” he tweeted. “If you don’t know how much leverage is in crypto, you don’t know anything about crypto.”

Burry returned to Twitter this week after deleting his profile in April. He’s previously used the social-media platform to issue warnings about Tesla – which he’s short – as well as GameStop, bitcoin, dogecoin, Robinhood, inflation, and the wider stock market.

The Scion chief has attracted a cult following since he anticipated the housing-market crash that precipitated the global financial crisis. His billion-dollar bet against the bubble was chronicled in the book and the movie “The Big Short.”

Burry also helped pave the way for the GameStop short squeeze in January, which kicked off the meme-stock boom. He bought a stake in the video-game retailer in 2019 and wrote several letters to its board, emboldening retail investors to bet on the stock.

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A hedge fund lost 10% in just a few days after a sudden spike in AMC stock derailed an options trade, new report says

A person rides his bicycle past the closed AMC movie theaters in Times Square on October 22, 2020.
  • Hedge fund Mudrick Capital lost 10% in just a few days amid a recent surge in AMC Entertainment’s stock price, the Wall Street Journal reported.
  • The fund announced earlier this month that it purchased millions of AMC shares and sold them at a profit shortly after.
  • The fund is still up 12% year-to-date, while shares of AMC are up more than 2,000%.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Hedge fund Mudrick Capital lost 10% in just a few days of trading as shares of meme stock AMC Entertainment spiked to record highs, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The losses were driven by call options sold by firm founder Jason Mudrick, according to the WSJ. The position, intended to serve as a downside hedge, ended up backfiring as the stock surged too much, too fast.

The runaway share spike occurred on June 2, when AMC shares rose as much as 127%, to $72.62, well beyond the strike price of $40 for Mudrick’s options.

Just one day prior, Mudrick had disclosed a $230.5 million purchase of new AMC stock, then immediately sold those shares at a profit, according to a Bloomberg report. Despite the success of that leg of the overall AMC trade, Mudrick’s calls on the stock were still held short, leaving them vulnerable to the June 2 surge, the WSJ found.

Mudrick did close out all options and debt positions on June 2, albeit too late to avoid the squeeze. While the fund did earn a roughly 5% return on the debt, it ended up absorbing a net loss of 5.4% because of the options trade.

Though the fund took a hit amid the surge, it’s still up about 12% for the year, the Journal said. Meanwhile, AMC, the world’s largest movie theater chain, is up more than 2,000% year-to-date.

Retail traders have been dealing blows to short sellers and hedge funds this year as they’ve poured into stocks with high short interest rates in order to force a short squeeze. Earlier this year, investors on Reddit’s Wall Street Bets led a share price surge in GameStop, which caused short sellers to lose billions.

Amid the renewed meme-stock interest in recent weeks, short sellers have continued to lose money in retail-trader favorites like AMC and GameStop. The meme stock trade has scared off many short sellers from heavily betting against certain stocks.

Read more: Goldman Sachs says these 40 popular stocks can be used to play the meme trade as surging retail volumes create huge money-making opportunities for investors who know when to get out

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Reddit traders have scared away many short sellers following massive squeezes in meme stocks, new data suggests

GettyImages 1230440907
  • Short sellers have shrunk their positions in heavily shorted stocks by 80% since January.
  • Short-seller losses in that period were largely limited to meme stocks over the same period, Barclays said.
  • Traders wagering on meme stocks to fail have been “burned very badly” amid the frenzy, said strategist Matt Maley.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The army of retail traders credited with squeezing GameStop and AMC short sellers earlier this year have largely pushed bears away from meme-stock names.

The tally of stocks with high short interest – a measure of wagers to the downside – has “come down dramatically” from mid-January when the GameStop craze began, a report from Barclays shows.

The number of companies for which short interest makes up 30% or more of shares outstanding has plummeted from 43 to just 18. In dollar terms, that means short sellers have shrunk their positions by 80%, from about $25 billion to just $5 billion, the data show.

The meme-stock craze has “definitely had an impact,” Matt Maley, chief market strategist for Miller Tabak, told Markets Insider, as short sellers have been “burned very badly.”

“It really disrupts a lot of strategies,” he said. “Some of these long-short strategies that have worked very well for a long time are getting thrown through a major loop because there’s no way any model says GameStop should trade at $300 something or AMC should trade at $70.

He added: “It ruins their hedges, and they’ve got to rethink some things.”

Amid the GameStop craze alone, analysts estimated short-seller losses totaled $19 billion. Melvin Capital, which took a 53% loss because of the craze, later exited all of its public short positions, though it may still hold some privately.

Renewed interest in meme stocks in recent weeks has driven more short sellers losses. On June 2 alone, a meme stock rally led by AMC caused nearly $5 billion in losses for short sellers in the top 10 shorted stocks, ORTEX data showed.

Even so, “the recent short squeeze in meme stocks over the last two weeks has also not led to material underperformance of the short interest factor baskets during this period,” Barclays said.

Short-seller losses have been largely localized to meme stocks that have generally had high short-interest rates. The data shows total short bets has remained steady since January, but the number of heavily shorted stocks has declined to less than 1% from 2.8% of the total.

“Given the low risk of a broad contagion, we view the fallout of the recent short squeeze to be limited,” Barclays said.

Bearish bets on companies with high short interest rates have been underperforming since March 2020, and the GameStop episode accelerated that, said Barclays analysts led by Maneesh Deshpande.

“The underperformance in the January 2021 episode was more acute in smaller cap names, which is where most of the high short interest was concentrated,” they said.

Small to midsize companies are the easiest targets for retailers to drive a short squeeze, as it doesn’t take as much money to move the stock, according to Maley.

“Those are the ones you can really squeeze because they’re just less liquid,” he said. But a company like General electric with a big share float, “you can’t squeeze; there’s just too much money in the stock.”

Read more: The CEO of investment-research firm Fintel shares 20 heavily shorted stocks primed for a squeeze, based on an explorer he built to help retail investors identify opportunities

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New meme stocks Clean Energy Fuels and ContextLogic rally as AMC fever fades


  • New meme names Clean Energy Fuels and ContextLogic jumped as much as 45% and 28%, respectively.
  • CarLotz and Workhorse also extended rallies from the prior session, alongside Clover Health.
  • Wendy’s, meanwhile, dropped after seeing big gains Tuesday.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Reddit traders are driving rallies in a string of new meme stocks this week, including Clean Energy Fuels and ContextLogic, among others.

Clean Energy Fuels, the Newport Beach, California-based natural gas provider, jumped 45% Wednesday, as ContextLogic, the mobile e-commerce company, jumped 28%, building on a 50% rise during Tuesday’s trading session.

The two new meme stocks were among the top-trending companies on Reddit investing threads like Wall Street Bets, according to HypeEquity data. Largely bullish Redditors agreed ContextLogic “has room to grow,” and as for Clean Energy Fuels, the phrase “short squeeze” was a common theme.

Recently, Redditors have also renewed their interest in Clover Health, the health-insurance provider backed by Chamath Palihapitiya. The stock – which plummeted earlier this year following a report from short-seller Hindenberg Research accusing the company of misleading investors, customers, and the federal government – remained the top-hyped name on Reddit. The stock was also trending on Twitter.

Clover rose 21% Wednesday, building on an 86% gain from the day prior.

Auto retailer CarLotz and electric vehicle-maker Workhorse bolstered gains from Tuesday, rising as much as 10% and 18%, respectively, thanks to their new status as meme stocks among Reddit investors. Meanwhile, electric-vehicle manufacturer Canoo whipsawed after rallying the day prior.

As for Wendy’s, the fast-food restaurant struggled to replicate the previous day’s rally as it dropped as much as 7% after the market opened. The stock on Tuesday ended at its highest level in nearly two decades, at $28.87, higher by almost 26%.

For Wendy’s, the word “tendy” was the most mentioned in posts about the company – a reference to both chicken nuggets on the menu and Reddit lingo that equates “tendies” with returns on investment.

Meanwhile, meme stock classics AMC Entertainment and BlackBerry, which have remained steady this week after massive gains last week, dropped. The movie-theater chain fell as much as 12%, while BlackBerry dropped 9%. GameStop, this year’s original meme stock, saw a modest rise.

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Wall Street brokers are reportedly limiting short bets against meme stocks by hedge funds

AMC Entertainment
  • Major Wall Street brokers are tightening rules over who can bet against meme stocks that are popular with retail traders, according to Bloomberg.
  • Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Jefferies Financial are among the firms that have adjusted risk controls.
  • Jefferies Prime Brokerage will no longer offer custody on naked options in AMC Entertainment, GameStop, and MicroVision, the report said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Some of Wall Street’s largest brokers are quietly tightening rules on who can bet against meme stocks popular among retail traders in an effort to protect themselves against the fallout from sharp price surges and falls, according to a Bloomberg News report.

Firms that have adjusted risk controls at their prime-brokerage operations include Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Jefferies Financial Group, the Friday report said, citing people familiar with discussions about internal policy decisions.

With the adjustments, some hedge funds and other institutional investors now face higher collateral requirements or are limited from shorting certain stocks.

Jefferies Prime Brokerage will no longer offer custody on naked options in AMC Entertainment, GameStop, and MicroVision, the firm told clients in a memo seen by Bloomberg News. Naked options allow investors to short a stock without owning the underlying securities. Jefferies will not permit short sales of those securities and other stocks may be added to its list.

The changes come during a new wave of rallies among so-called meme stocks including AMC GameStop as retail investors on social media sites such as Reddit’s Wall Streets Bets forum band together to force short squeezes on hedge funds that betting shares of the companies will fall. AMC has been the key focus of the latest rally, similar to GameStop’s role during a trending frenzy in January.

It’s not unusual for banks to make risk-control adjustments as market conditions change, the report noted.

A number of brokerages have been looking over their risk controls after some large prime brokers in March were forced to liquidate at a discount the multibillion-dollar portfolio of Bill Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management. The family office collapsed after making wrong-way bets on media and technology companies. Bank of America and Citigroup were not hurt by the Archegos matter, Bloomberg said.

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AMC jumps 24% to extend last week’s massive rally for the meme stock

AMC popcorn
AMC popcorn. Francis Scialabba

  • AMC shares jumped as much as 24% Monday to reverse Thursday and Friday’s losses.
  • The stock closed out last week 83% higher overall, thanks to a retail investor-driven rally.
  • The company could be set for a short squeeze, according to S3 Partners.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Shares of AMC Entertainment popped as much as 24% Monday, reversing two-days of losses after the stock hit record highs last week amid renewed hype from retail traders.

On Monday, AMC, the world’s largest movie-theater chain, remained one of the top talked-about stocks on social media, second only to BlackBerry, according to a report from Quiver Quantitative.

Shares jumped as high as 126% to a record high last Wednesday, before paring gains Thursday and Friday to close out the week 83% higher overall.

Retail traders, which make up about 80% of the stock’s investor base, hyped up the company on social media sites like Twitter and Reddit to help drive last week’s rally. They rallied around AMC again Monday with the word “short” frequently mentioned with posts about the stock, HypeEquity data showed.

AMC might be close to a short squeeze – meaning those betting against the stock may have to cover their positions – Forbes reported, citing S3 Partners’ Ihor Dusaniwsky, who said the company’s recent rally has put it into “short squeeze territory.” MarketBeat data show the stock has a 21% short interest rate, in line with that of GameStop, the original meme stock.

AMC executives benefited from last week’s gains with six of them cashing in on the stock gains, according to Friday filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In total, the executives sold 150,000 shares and made more than $8 million.

Hedge-fund Mudrick Capital also cashed in on millions of shares last week after just announcing it had purchased the stock. It said AMC was overvalued.

The company also offered millions of new shares, and its Chief Executive Officer Adam Aron hopes to offer even more. The CEO, who has catered to his large base of retail traders, went on a popular YouTube channel last week to make a case for selling more stock.

The company told investors last week that they could lose their money if they buy into the stock amid the rally.

Shares traded 18% higher at $56.58 at 11:34 a.m. in New York.

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BlackBerry jumps 10% as Reddit traders seek another short squeeze mere days after sending AMC soaring

A shareholder uses his Blackberry while waiting for the Research In Motion annual meeting to begin in Waterloo, July 17, 2007.
BlackBerry shareholder

  • BlackBerry shares rallied 10% in pre-market trading as some Redditors sought a new short squeeze.
  • The company jumped last week as well amid a broader meme-stock rally driven by retail traders.
  • Some Redditors mentioned a $20 share price target for the stock, double its current value.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Shares of BlackBerry jumped 10% in pre-market trading Tuesday as Redditors sought a short squeeze in the stock.

About a tenth of all conversations among Redditors hoped for a short squeeze, and another 1% called for a $20 price target, according to HypeEquity data. That would nearly double the share price from Friday’s close of $10.07.

Shares of BlackBerry, the legacy telecom company that is now focused on cybersecurity, rose last week as well – jumping 16.8% – amid a broader meme stock rally largely driven by retail traders.

AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest movie theater chain, led last week’s meme stock rally, more than doubling in price and closing out the week at $26.12 – its highest in years – as it trended on Twitter hashtags and among retail investors on Reddit. Other meme stocks, such as GameStop, Virgin Galactic, and a new one, Beyond Meat, also rallied last week amid renewed interest from retail traders.

Shares of AMC rose again in pre-market trading Tuesday, but some Redditors seemed ready to move onto the next short squeeze, as BlackBerry was the most popular stock stock on the site.

One Redditor, with a long post history and a lot of “karma” on the site, said, “It’s not worth buying AMC anymore, that train already passed,” and added that, “even BB is a safer choice now, since BB is actually undervalued.”

Ontario, Canada-based BlackBerry joined the meme stock trend back in January, when- in retail traders on social media sites such as Reddit picked what they deemed to be undervalued companies and poured into them in an effort to squeeze short sellers. Shares skyrocketed to $25, before declining in the following months.

Short interest in BlackBerry is 9%, according to MarketBeat data, compared to other meme stocks AMC and GameStop, which have a 21% short interest.

If you’re a Millennial or Gen Z investor willing to share your investing experience, reach out to the reporter of this article at

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AMC shares have doubled in just 4 days as Redditors continue to rally behind the meme stock, squeezing shorts in the process

AMC kiosks
Movie goers purchase automated tickets at an AMC movie theater in Arcadia, California on August 2, 2017. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

  • AMC stock has doubled in price since the beginning of the week amid renewed interest from Reddit users.
  • The rally began early in the week after Wanda Group sold most of its remaining stake in the company.
  • Short sellers lost $1.77 billion on GameStop, AMC, and Virgin Galactic so far this week, according to data from ORTEX.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Shares of AMC Entertainment have doubled in price this week as retail traders continue to pour into the stock.

AMC, the world’s largest movie theater chain, is on a four-day hot streak, gaining as much as 102% week-to-date. As share prices rose, so did the number of Reddit comments about AMC, according to HypeEquity data.

On Wall Street Bets, the 10-million member thread best known for starting the GameStop saga earlier this year, Redditors rallied behind the stock, posting the usual rocketship and moon emojis, indicating their view that the stock has a long runway for gains.

One Redditor said, “Get em AMC gooooo.” Another said “AMC to 26 by noon then to the moon,” while others predicted shares would go as high as $30. At 1:20 p.m. ET, shares traded at $24.27.

The AMC rally began earlier this week after Redditors cheered newly available shares on the market, thanks to the company’s once largest shareholder, private Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, selling almost all of the remainder of its stake in the company.

Wanda Group bought AMC in 2012 for $2.6 billion and began selling down its stake in December after the company posted a $4.6 billion loss in 2020. Wanda Group’s stake is now just .002%.

Following the news, one Redditor proclaimed, “We now hold the future of this company!”

Meme stocks, like AMC, GameStop, Virgin Galactic, and BlackBerry, have all seen strong gains this week amid positive sentiment about the companies from retail traders on Reddit.

And short sellers have lost a fortune. The latest data from ORTEX shows short sellers lost $1.77 billion on their positions in GameStop, AMC, and Virgin Galactic so far this week.

But short sellers haven’t given up. The data show that short interest in the companies has actually gone up during the week. According to MarketBeat data, short interest in AMC is 21%. Short interest for GameStop, Virgin Galactic, and BlackBerry, is 21%, 24%, and 9%, respectively.

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