European Short Sellers Have Missed Out on Stock Market Carnage

(Bloomberg) -- Short sellers who have been avoiding Europe have missed out on profiting from the slide in equity markets that has left investors around the world jittery.

The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index has fell 3.6 percent in the two trading sessions through to Thursday’s close, dropping to levels last seen in late 2016. At the same time, the overall level of bearish bets against European equities is hovering at its lowest in 30 months, according to data compiled by IHS Markit Ltd.

European Short Sellers Have Missed Out on Stock Market Carnage

“All the catalysts that have started to drain liquidity on the market -- rising rates, trade war, etc -- have been in place for many months now but the market continued to rally, so short sellers have been quite reluctant to bet against equities, and so very few managed to profit from the latest selling bout,” said Romain Stephan, founding partner of Paris-based quant hedge fund Silver Time.

A series of short positions in European companies disclosed by Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates earlier this year helped spur short-selling demand in the region. Bearish wagers tapered off in April amid the Stoxx 600 Index’s biggest monthly rally in more than a year.

Despite the lack of shorting en masse, some European companies have still managed to get the attention of short sellers. Such wagers against Austrian sensor maker AMS AG, French grocer Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA and French telecommunications company Iliad SA have increased in recent months, according to IHS Markit data.

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