Priti Patel has announced UK citizens returning from high-risk countries will have to quarantine in hotels upon arrival. As part of a range of measures designed to slow the spread of new coronavirus variants, the home secretary also said that people who want to leave the UK will also be under heightened scrutiny. Anyone travelling outside the country will have to make a declaration of their reasons for doing so, while the number of border police will be stepped up.Read more: Travellers must prove journey is essential – Patel
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A “short-squeeze” that started on Wall Street has swept across the Atlantic, triggering another day of frenetic moves in the share prices of companies with large bets levied against them.
Stocks such as German pharmaceutical company Evotec, former Financial Times owner Pearson and Polish games developer CD Projekt rose strongly in intraday trading.
Some of the companies were targets of Melvin Capital, a hedge fund that has been singled out by day traders. The stocks included Evotec, which soared as much as 30 per cent before falling back to trade up 5.5 per cent; CD Projekt, which rose 15 per cent and was recently trading up 6.4 per cent; and German battery manufacturer Varta, which surged 12 per cent before trimming its gains to trade up 4.6 per cent.
The short squeeze in the US also continued on Wednesday, with shares of AMC, the cinema company, jumping more than 200 per cent in volatile action. GameStop, which has been at the centre of the retail trading bonanza, shot up by 100 per cent.
The dramatic moves highlight the growing influence of retail traders, who have organised on the message board site Reddit. The group has focused on pushing up stocks that are the subject of large “short bets” by hedge funds. Melvin, which has been at the centre of the storm, on Wednesday revealed it had closed its GameStop position, with the bets contributing to a multibillion-dollar loss at the start of this year.
Retail investors are using “a tried-and-true hedge fund strategy of swarming crowded trades held by weak-handed investors,” said Andrew Beer, managing member at fund firm Dynamic Beta Investments.
In contrast to in the US, which has limited disclosure on short bets, hedge funds and other investors have to disclose when they have shorted more than 0.5 per cent of a company’s stock in the EU and the UK, making it easier to target a fund’s positions.
Melvin’s latest disclosure shows it has bet against more than 6 per cent of Evotec’s shares, making it the largest single wager against a European company by percentage of shares shorted, according to data provider Breakout Point. The US hedge fund’s bet against Varta is the fifth largest.
The “short squeeze phenomena fuelled by retail investors’ discussions is spilling over to Europe”, said Ivan Cosovic, founder of Breakout Point. “We are recently detecting some European stocks being touted as ‘the next GameStop’ among retail investors.”
The targeting of hedge funds will be viewed with irony by many financial market insiders, given that such funds are often the protagonists in short selling “attacks” on troubled companies.
Heavily shorted shares with no link to Melvin Capital also rose on Wednesday. Shares in Pearson, the British education publishing company that is the third-most shorted stock in Europe, according to IHS Markit, were up 12 per cent by mid-afternoon in London. Daniel Sundheim’s New York-based hedge fund D1 Capital Partners, which has also been shorting Varta, has the biggest bet against Pearson, at 3.8 per cent of its share capital.
Real estate company Wereldhave, in which Woodson Capital has disclosed a 4.2 per cent short position and London-based Adelphi has a 3.6 per cent bet, rose about 5 per cent.
Hedge funds in Europe are now fervently scouring lists of most-shorted stocks and message boards such as Reddit for any signs that their short bets could be in trouble.
“Any good hedge fund group will be looking at this,” said the head of one multibillion-dollar European hedge fund firm.
One European hedge fund manager who specialises in short selling described the recent stock market rallies as “insane”, but said the elevated share prices of troubled companies would “make a great opportunity” for short sellers that survived the week’s mayhem.
SharenocloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingimage copyrightDowning StreetBoris Johnson has warned that the UK “can’t get complacent” about anti-Semitism, in a statement to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.He was speaking after a virtual meeting with a Holocaust survivor and soldier who liberated a Nazi death camp.The prime minister described their testimonies as “perhaps the most powerful things I have ever heard”.People are being asked to light a candle in their window at 8pm to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.The international date remembers the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis during World War Two, and the victims of subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.’British citizenship saved mum from the Holocaust’This year’s theme, chosen by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, is “be the light in the darkness”, to encourage people to reflect on the depths to which humanity can sink.image copyrightJessica Taylor/UK ParliamentMr Johnson spoke to Renee Salt, a survivor of both the Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen camps, and war veteran Ian Forsyth during a video call from Downing Street.’Emotional’In the call, the pair described their memories of the camps.Mrs Salt told the Prime Minister: “All the children, old people, pregnant women, invalids, all went to the right.”I went to the left… left to live, right to die. I was together with my mother, for which I was very grateful, and so was she. Without my mother, I would never have survived.”Mr Forsyth wept as he recalled arriving in Bergen-Belsen in April 1945 to liberate the survivors.He said: “We didn’t even know the camp was there.”When we got up that morning – a beautiful morning, I can remember that – my tank happened to be the lead tank on that particular day, but no-one told us what to expect.”I’m sorry, I get very emotional when I talk about this.”We came along the road and cut over across the fields, there was this camp in front of us.”I’ve been back quite a few times, it draws me like a magnet.”‘Courage’Mr Johnson told them: “People get complacent about anti-Semitism. I think in the UK we can get complacent about it and we mustn’t. “It’s so vital that you both have had the courage to continue to share with everybody, with me and the world, your memories of what took place. We can never forget it. “Your personal memories have been perhaps the most powerful things I’ve ever heard. “What you saw and experienced is horrifying and we must make sure nothing like that happens again.”‘Stand together’At Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he would be taking part in the candle-lighting ceremony “to remember the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, along of course with the other genocides and persecutions that have taken place around the world”.The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said “we must never forget” the six million Jews who lost their lives or “indeed those that have sadly followed them in genocides around the world”.Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle held a short candle-lighting ceremony for MPs in Portcullis House, the first time such an event has been held on the Parliamentary Estate for Holocaust Memorial Day.He urged colleagues to “stand together, especially with those who are suffering”.