Petrobras Short Interest Surges

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Bearish bets against Petrobras, Brazil's state-controlled oil giant, are on the rise as traders look for other ways to bet against plunging crude prices, bad news for weary shareholders that have already been coping with what is one of the worst-performing major oil stocks in the world over the past year.

Investors had borrowed 178.8 million shares as of Aug. 5, or 3.2% of the total outstanding, according to Bloomberg data. That means short interest in Petrobras (PBR) has nearly tripled from 1.1% on July 5, Bloomberg reported.

Petrobras ADRs slid 10.04% to $26.15 on volume that was more than double the daily average. The U.S.-listed shares printed $25.80, a new 52-week low, earlier today. The Brazilian shares touched their lowest levels since December 2008 today.

Petrobras is not the only Brazilian oil company short-sellers are targeting. Investors borrowed 53.3 million shares of OGX Petroleo & Gas Participacoes SA, the oil company controlled by billionaire Eike Batista at the end of the last week, 1.6 percent of the total, up 54 percent from 34.7 million, or 1.1 percent, a month earlier, according to Bloomberg.

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