18 March 2009

Brokers Recalling Loaned Shares in Citi

Since this morning Bloomberg reports that major brokerages have been calling in the loaned shares that have been used for legitimate short sales in Citigroup.

This in part explains the rally in Citi today, as the shortsellers cover their positions ahead of a 2:30 PM deadline today by which they must return the borrowed shares.

It does seem rather calculated, particularly its conjunction with the Federal Reserve announcement.

We have not seen this in the general news, just on the Bloomberg TV analyst reporting.

There is the implication that this is a calculated market operation being conducting among big traders and the major brokerage houses who hold the shares for borrowing from customer accounts. Marketwatch seems to imply that this is being precipitated by 'the authorities.'

Nice timing to help bolster the financials after the FOMC announcement. This has the Larry Summers/Robert Rubin touch.

It would be a good thing indeed if the Obama Adminstration did something meaningful to curb naked short selling and enforce the existing regulations. But if they are doing so for only their favorite companies, then this is not market regulation, it is crony capitalism and insider trading.

Seeking Alpha

Citigroup Inc. – Shares are being squeezed once again today and the company has a valuation some 23% higher today with shares stretching above $3.00.

Intrigue continues in the June 5.0 strike options where arbitrageurs are using conversion plays that typically land a credit to take advantage of the squeeze. The volume in that line has more than 150,000 contracts trading both sides today with puts bought and calls sold when investors can position long of the stock.

Earlier in the week rumors did the rounds that the authorities might be on the hunt for hard-to-borrow stock certificates in select financial names.

This in itself has created a surge at AIG and Citigroup as desperate short-sellers try to cover their positions. The conversion trade could be established earlier in the week for a credit of 20 cents, but given the near-panic buying in the stock has shifted to a 1.10 cost to traders.