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Markets

GameStop slides, silver spree stalls as retail traders run out of road

  • GME down 30% in Frankfurt, down 23% in US pre-market.
  • Silver falls 8% from Monday's eight-year high.
  • Robinhood raises $3.4 bln from investors in a week.
Published February 2, 2021

GameStop shares sank on Tuesday and a silver buying spree led by small investors subsided as a Reddit-driven trading frenzy that has shocked global financial markets over the past week started to show signs of fizzling out.

The videogame chain's US-listed shares, which have see-sawed in a dramatic week that has seen billions of dollars gained and lost by financial firms, were down 23% in early pre-market trading after closing down 31% on Monday.

Spot silver prices, an alternative focus in the battle between a pack of small traders and Wall Street hedge funds since late last week, fell more than 4% to $27.66 an ounce after hitting an eight-year high a day earlier.

Analysts said the silver pullback may show the limits of small investors' impact in a large market, while posts on the popular Reddit forum WallStreetBets expressed concern that silver buying could cost traders their grip on some stocks.

"The stocks side of things has faded because they all had a look at silver yesterday, but my feeling is they'll be back, depending on whether retail trading platforms will allow you to buy more than one share," said Keith Temperton, an equity sales trader at Forte Securities.

Another Reddit favorite, movie theater operator AMC, also slumped 21% although it remains 500% higher than the start of the year, before the organized band of small buyers piled in and forced a "squeeze" that required big funds to close short positions by buying shares at very high prices.

Online broker Robinhood, on whose platform much of the buying and selling has taken place, confirmed on Monday it had raised another $2.4 billion from shareholders following a $1 billion boost last week as it strives to meet demands for additional collateral to cover trades.

The broker has also held talks with banks about raising another $1 billion in debt, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Analysts at financial institutions continued to predict the action was likely to fade, it was just a question of how soon.

"With volumes in all the hot stocks collapsing, silver attack met by margin, Robinhood having to seek fresh collateral at a rampant speed, the signals that the retail mania could unravel rapidly are aligning," said Mark Taylor, a London-based equity sales trader with financial group Mirabaud.

SHOWDOWN

The surge in day-trading mania has boosted the price of assets ranging from cryptocurrencies to new stock market listings.

In London a sign of still-strong demand came from online greeting-card retailer Moonpig, which leapt 25% in its debut on Tuesday.

With financial regulators eyeing the action, Robinhood continued to roll back trading curbs on Monday, raising trading limits on GameStop to 20 shares from four.

Weak prices in pre-market trade may serve as a guide to where the phenomenon is headed next, although broader markets appeared to be moving on from jitters the frenzied buying had triggered and S&P 500 futures rose 0.9% on stimulus hopes.

The number of shorted GameStop shares has fallen by more than half in a week, analytics firm S3 Partners said on Monday, although the videogame retailer remained the sixth-biggest short by value.

"Short-squeeze mania has calmed a bit for this week," said Chris Brankin, chief executive of broker TD Ameritrade in Singapore.

QUICKSILVER

One big drag on prices was an overnight margin hike on silver by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which makes speculative trade using derivatives more expensive.

The unit price of Australia's ETF Securities' Physical Silver fund fell 1% in Sydney after drawing a record A$76 million ($58 million) in inflows on Monday. Small silver miners, which had leapt, also retraced some of their gains.

"It is slowing down a bit," said Gregor Gregersen, founder of Silver Bullion, a dealer in Singapore, after a wild 24 hours where he said sales exceeded average monthly levels from 2018 and orders above S$35,000 ($26,300) arrived every three minutes.

Reddit moderators had on Tuesday removed one of the most popular posts suggesting buying silver and many WallStreetBets posts focused on riding out the volatility.

"WHO IS HOLDING GME WITH ME?" read one top post. "I'M HOLDING EVEN IF MY PORTFOLIO GOES DOWN TO ZERO," read another.

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