Emotion-seeking traders send ‘meme stocks’ up as crypto falls

A new breed of day traders who chase emotions in the intense highs and lows of the markets once again asserts their dominance, inventing stocks in popular stocks that grow as cryptocurrency prices go up.

In January, amateur investors flocked online in huge numbers to shoot unwanted shares of companies including the GameStop console and AMC Entertainment film group. Now, after a pause, part of that fervor is back.

Shares in AMC have risen more than 200 percent since bitcoin began swinging earlier this month, and have more than doubled just this week, according to Refinitiv data. GameStop, one of the highest-selling pieces, has also increased by about a third this week.

Professional analysts say the recovery shows that amateur fascination with markets may survive the social barriers brought last year to controlling the coronavirus pandemic. Some now see it as a more lasting trend that has a noticeable effect on the investment landscape.

“Retail.” [traders are] creating his own impulse and following it. We have this new dynamic where retail is driving the charge, we can no longer say that retail is the last to know, ”said Dan Pipitone, co-founder of US-based trade TradeZero.

While markets have been mostly bearish on the surface in recent weeks, volatility flashes have emerged in assets that are favored by young technologically savvy traders who have entered stocks and cryptocurrency markets in record numbers since the beginning of the blockchains. last year.

After the January crash, some enthusiasm instead infiltrated cryptocurrencies. But the prices of bitcoin and ether – two of the most popular digital currencies – have been falling since early May. When air came out of that market, it seemed to be pumped immediately into stocks with an intense selling interest.

A Goldman Sachs stock index most often quoted on the popular r / WallStreetBets page Reddit – which has become an online water well for day-to-day traders and some big money managers – climbed 5 percent Friday. . So far this week, the index has gained nearly 30 percent, according to the bank.

Some of these are presented in options markets, which traders can use to bet on the direction of the action. The number of open calls – bets that stocks will rise – on AMC has grown 40 percent since Tuesday, to 1.8 m, according to Bloomberg data. Net sales of AMC shares last week totaled $ 209m at the end of Thursday, up 273 percent from the week before, according to Vanda data.

In the past, day traders tended to concentrate on particular topics or stock sectors. But the new generation has tended to “rotate into different asset bubbles” in global markets, said Giacomo Pierantoni, an analyst at Vanda Research, which tracks sales investment flows. “We are investing in assets with a strong momentum, great potential at the height and a supportive news flow,” he said.

Pipitone added that “these merchants are not married to any sector, they are married to style.”

Despite the relatively small market share of individual investors, with younger investors trading with smaller sums, they have an excessive ability to raise prices in stocks or single subjects.

“They don’t necessarily move a lot of money, but they use a lot of derivatives,” Pierantoni said. Derivatives trades such as the use of options and futures on stocks and cryptocurrencies allow traders to increase their potential gains and their ability to send assets moving up and down.

“You have clutches of speculative foam. Then the order moves to the next shiny object “which leads to a series of rotating corrective phases,” said Liz Ann Sonders, Charles Schwab’s chief investment strategist.The “fury of interest” in the corners of the market from “new day traders” has been evident since the summer of 2020 when investors piled on large technology stocks, he added.

This style of investment among people aged 18 to 40 years is expected. “You have old school guys who say this isn’t going to last, which is a peak in business, but there’s a different psyche among young investors,” said Bob Cortright, general manager of mediation technology provider DriveWealth .

“This is a generation that’s grown up with video games… They’re very smart, very fast. That’s why cryptography is so exciting for them – they really like volatility.”

Others in the investing community disagree and expect that these ultra-speculative traders will ultimately transform into the type of investors who seek long-term capital appreciation instead of highs and lows.

This month’s “collapse in cryptos was the next logical step in retail losing its infatuation for the markets … That meme seemed to be on its way,” said Steve Sosnick, chief strategist of the Interactive Brokers-based platform. in Connecticut.

Yet others see the boom in retail trade after the pandemic as the beginning of a major new force in investment.

“Everyone is trying to tell them‘ it’s going to end badly ’or‘ this isn’t a good way to trade ’and I think it’s basically missing the point,” Cortright added. “They create new ways to think about investing.”

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