Heavily shorted mortgage provider Rocket Companies saw its stock surge on Tuesday, in an eye-popping move reminiscent of the rallies that powered GameStop and other so-called ‘meme stocks’ earlier in the year.

Shares of Rocket, the parent company of Quicken Loans, closed up 71.2 percent at US$41.60 after being halted several times for volatility. More than 367 million shares changed hands in the stock’s busiest trading day ever.

The outsized move puts Rocket among the stocks that have experienced wild gyrations after becoming a focus of investors on sites such as Reddit’s WallStreetBets, where mentions of the company have multiplied in recent days. The company’s market cap rose by more than US$34 billion to US$82.6 billion.

Shares of Rocket Companies are also heavily shorted, leaving them vulnerable to a phenomenon known as a short squeeze, where investors betting against a company’s shares are forced to unwind their positions after a rally in the stock price.

A short squeeze, sparked in part by retail investors coordinating on WallStreetBets, helped fuel a more than 1,600 percent run in GameStop’s shares in January, before they pared much of those gains the following month.

“This feels very much like a retail-driven move and also probably a short squeeze,” Barclays analyst Mark DeVries told Reuters.

The value of Rocket shares shorted stood at US$1.2 billion as of Monday’s close, accounting for nearly 46 percent of the float, compared with 35.5 percent at the beginning of February, according to Ihor Dusaniwsky, managing director of predictive analytics at S3 Partners.

The position makes Rocket the fifth largest short in the banking sector, behind JPMorgan Chase & Co and Citigroup, S3 data showed.


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