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High-yield ETF bears wake for spring

Short intertest spiked amid the market volatility in the first half of February. High-yield bond funds saw notable shorting over the 15-day period as the high-yield spread jumped almost 60 basis points. The iShares iBoxx High Yield Corporate Bond ETF saw about 71.6 million shares in shorts while the SPDR High Yield Bond ETF had about 63.2 million shorts. Both were significantly higher than their trailing 12-month averages. Short interest ratios – the ratio of shorted shares to average daily volume – were relatively muted due to elevated trading volumes over the same period.

For added perspective, the short interest in the SPDR S&P 500 ETF was also elevated with a large upswing in volume during the period.