WRAPUP 5-GameStop stock slide accelerates; Yellen promises scrutiny
Updates stock data, adds details on Robinhood lawsuits
By Tom Westbrook and Susan Mathew
Feb 4 (Reuters) - The slide in shares of GameStop Corp GME.N and other recent favorites of retail investors deepened on Thursday, while U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she needed to "understand deeply" the trading frenzy that has gripped Wall Street.
A swarm of buying by amateur traders over the past two weeks sparked big moves in shares of companies that hedge funds had bet against in a confrontation some framed as a battle between Wall Street and Main Street.
Many of those stocks have notched sharp declines this week. GameStop shares were down 38% in afternoon trading at $57.50, compared with a peak of $483 a week ago, while AMC's AMC.N value has more than halved after two weeks of the battle that has pitched amateur traders against Wall Street institutions.
The family behind Koss Corp KOSS.O and some of the company's top executives raked in about $45 million from a surge in the headphone maker's stock price during the retail-trading blitz that rocked Wall Street last week. nL4N2KA4DO
Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners in Pittsburgh, said retail investors burnt in the wild gyrations of the past two weeks were now likely to be more cautious in bidding up shares of companies with a high short interest.
"(Retail investors) can see that this is a roller-coaster ride and not a one-way trip up, and that's probably given them a little more pause before pushing the buy button."
Some investors may once again be setting their sights on stocks they believe are overvalued.
Health insurance startup Clover Health CLOV.O, which is backed by venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya, tumbled 10% after it was criticized in a report by Hindenburg Research. nL4N2KA3NP
On WallStreetBets, the Reddit forum at the center of the squeeze that has hurt hedge funds and other "short" sellers, some denizens urged each other to hold the line and not sell GameStop, while others expressed frustration at the stock's big drop.
“It’s funny how everyone on here is telling others to hold but stock keeps falling meaning y’all are actually selling,” said a user with the handle the_undergroundman. “You’re getting played by your own brethren.”
Despite this week's declines, GameStop shares remain up more than 200% so far in 2021, with AMC and Koss logging gains for the year of over 200% and 400%, respectively.
Set to meet on the issue on Thursday, Yellen said on ABC's "Good Morning America" that she and financial market regulators were seeking to "understand deeply" what had happened in the frenzy before considering action. nL1N2KA16X
Yellen will meet with the heads of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Reserve Board, Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Thursday to discuss the affair.
Analysts say focus could fall on the online forums where mass buying of GameStop and AMC was discussed last week, and on the ever-larger role played by hedge funds in financial markets. nL1N2K8270
"Any kind of market distortion by investors agreeing to cause the distortion goes against the smooth and transparent functioning of markets," said Andrea Cicione, head of strategy at TS Lombard.
"The reason this might not be covered by regulation yet is simply because it has never happened before. But now it might find its way into regulation in a more explicit way."
Cleveland Federal Reserve President Loretta Mester told CNBC that she does not see the Fed making any adjustments in reaction to the GameStop frenzy. nL4N2KA3ZK
The SEC is reviewing social media posts for signs of potential fraud, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday. nL4N2K94J4
At least a dozen proposed class-action lawsuits accuse brokerage app Robinhood of breaching its contract with customers when it restricted trading last week. nL1N2K42IW
Hindenburg, which called Clover a "broken business" in the title of its report, said it had taken no short or long investment position - market code for a bet on its shares - in the company. The group added it was important investors understood the role short-sellers and their research played in financial markets.
Famous as an early Facebook executive and the minority owner of the Golden State Warriors basketball team, Palihapitiya was among the tech sector billionaires who encouraged the GameStop trade last month by saying he had bought into the company's shares.
Meanwhile, Tesla Inc TSLA.O Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted his support for cryptocurrency Dogecoin, sending its value surging more than 50%. Musk's tweets about certain companies - including GameStop - and cryptocurrencies have contributed to the recent rally. nL1N2KA0MQ
Many analysts think the squeeze is probably over and broader market attention has begun to turn to the possible fallout. The number of GameStop shares shorted edged lower, according to the latest data from analytics firm S3 Partners. nL1N2KA1LD
"The retail frenzy that provided an unusual distraction over the last couple of weeks appears to have lost momentum," said Craig Erlam, market analyst at OANDA Europe.
"A comeback tour may be planned at some point in the not-too-distant future but whether it will be as effective, we'll have to wait and see."
TAKE A LOOK-From Reddit rally to regulatory scrutiny: The retail trading frenzynL4N2K365N
EXPLAINER-How retail traders squeezed Wall Street for bets against GameStop nL1N2K221Y
Young, confident, digitally connected - meet America's new day tradersnL1N2K43EM
FACTBOX-The long and short of it: GameStop and other market squeezesnL8N2K85IM
GRAPHIC-Game on after GameStop: Stocks soar again despite amber warnings nL8N2K84SI
Five things to watch in Reddit stocks trading manianL4N2KA1PB
Koss family rakes it in from Reddit-fueled rally nL4N2KA4DO
BREAKINGVIEWS-Small-stock mania calls for big-picture thinking nL1N2KA2C8
(Reporting by Tom Westbrook in Singapore, Susan Mathew and Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru, Joice Alves in London and Aleksandra Michalska in New York, additional writing by Lewis Krauskopf; editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Nick Zieminski)
((Sagarika.Jaisinghani@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780; outside U.S. +91 80 6182 2256;))