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GameStop and AMC tumble as meme stocks rally deflates

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By Medha Singh

(Reuters) -Retail investor darlings GameStop and AMC fell for a second straight session on Thursday, as excitement over the social media return of “Roaring Kitty,” who was the central figure in 2021 meme-stock rally, fizzles out.

Shares of the videogame retailer GameStop tumbled 30% to close at $27.67 after jumping as high as $64.83 on Tuesday. Theater chain AMC closed 15.3% lower at $4.64.

Both companies’ shares have fallen sharply from gains in the first two sessions of the week following a series of posts from Keith Gill’s X account “Roaring Kitty,” whose bullish calls on GameStop were a reason for the 2021 meme-stock frenzy.

Unlike 2021, when Reddit users banded together to target highly shorted stocks that burned the bearish bets of hedge funds, institutional investors too were part of the meme-stock mania, Vanda Research, which tracks retail investor flows, said.

“The short sellers three years ago were completely surprised by the magnitude of the mass purchases and ultimately overwhelmed by the size of the short squeeze,” said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments.

“They have likely learned from that experience and left themselves less exposed thereby reducing the potential for extended upward pressure.”

Short interests, or bets on a stock’s decline, have stayed mostly flat for both GameStop and AMC this week, analytics firm Ortex Technologies said.

Short sellers took unrealized losses worth $1.14 billion this week from their bets against the two struggling companies and were set to make just about $460 million in paper gains on Thursday, it said.

Meanwhile, hedge fund Renaissance Technologies placed a new bet for GameStop shares to rise further and significantly increased its long position in AMC during the first quarter, according to a filing.

GameStop stock is down over 70% from its 2021 intraday peak, while AMC is 99% off its all-time high.

Since he recently resumed posting on Sunday, Gill has posted over clips of movies on social media platform X. He did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on what the posts might mean or whether he planned on making his investments public again.

The former chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Jay Clayton, told CNBC on Wednesday that the posts have triggered “a wave of euphoric and speculative buying in the retail (trading) community, which is never a good thing,” adding that it was not illegal to say, “I like a stock”.

Other highly shorted stocks that rallied this week were lower on Thursday. Tupperware fell almost 8%, while U.S.-listed BlackBerry lost about 6%.

OPTIONS TRADERS RUSH IN

Options activity remained strong. GameStop and AMC were among the top ten securities with highest options volume by 11:15 a.m. EDT (1515 GMT), with the majority of traders buying call options, which bet on a stock’s rise, data from Options Clearing Corp showed.

The pace of borrowing for margin trading by U.S. investors, however, has been restrained compared with the GameStop short squeeze in January 2021, J.P. Morgan strategists said in a note.

“Retail investors are once bitten twice shy after they ended up losing a lot of money last time round,” said Ben Laidler, global markets strategist at digital brokerage eToro.

“Even though there are more retail investors today, you’re not seeing that follow through into the rally this time as you saw last time.”

(Reporting by Medha Singh and Pranav Kashyap in BengaluruAdditional reporting by Noel Randewich in Oakland, CaliforniaEditing by Arun Koyyur and Matthew Lewis)

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