By Thornton McEnery
There was blood on the floor across U.S. stocks on Friday , but for meme stocks only a frantic last hour of buying prevented social media’s favorite ticker symbols from getting exsanguinated to end the first trading week of December.
Both GameStop /zigman2/quotes/203755179/composite GME +3.59% and AMC Entertainment /zigman2/quotes/200235402/composite AMC -0.55% — among other key meme names — spent most of Friday’s trading hours getting outright clobbered with GameStop falling as much as 11.8% and AMC plummeting 15.2% going into the final hour of trading.
For memes, it looked like the close to a particularly difficult week as confusion over how concerned markets should be about the omicron variant mixed with the very real fear that Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell is getting ready to start tapering, ending an unprecedented period of central banking accommodation of capital markets.
AMC, more exposed to the concerns over a new COVID variant, felt the pain more acutely than its ur-meme partner, falling back almost 33% by 3 p.m. Friday. GameStop bottomed out at the same time but at a comparatively shallower 21.4%.
Generally, signs were popping up everywhere that the salad days of buying stocks for the sake of future growth might be coming to an end.
That pain was felt across meme names like Koss /zigman2/quotes/207340503/composite KOSS -2.46% , Tesla /zigman2/quotes/203558040/composite TSLA -5.26% and Nvidia /zigman2/quotes/200467500/composite NVDA -3.21% as the Nasdaq /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP -2.72% was openly flirting with a bear market, and even zeitgeist investor Cathie Wood found herself getting mauled by that waking bear as her flagship ARK Innovation ETF /zigman2/quotes/204808965/composite ARKK -5.73% dropped another 13.8% on the week.
For AMC, the two-week wait is on for the newest Spider-Man film, which AMC CEO/memelord Adam Aron is using to gauge Reddit Ape interest in nonfungible tokens and other cryptos. But for now, Aron has been reduced to trying to juice up retail fervor by taking to Twitter and inviting his followers to Aaron Sorkin’s new movie about Lucille Ball’s difficult marriage to Desi Arnaz.
Spider-Man cannot swing fast enough.
For GameStop, some of the week was taken up by some hot drama around retail investors seeing some incorrect data about the stock on Fidelity’s platform Tuesday morning.
That data appeared to show that there were more than 13 million shares of GameStop available to short when in reality there were only about 2 million, a number that GameStop’s Ape army knew was wrong thanks to their obsessive watching of short interest on the stock.
After Fidelity released a statement claiming “the root cause was an incorrect entry of the number of shares available to short by one of our external counterparties. The issue was fixed by 12:10 p.m. ET today.”
Reddit and Twitter were ablaze with conjecture over who could have been at fault for the discrepancy with many once again pointing the finger at short sellers that they see as their archenemies, with one theory alleging that a defunct market maker was to blame.
But in the end, the answer was a very boring one. On Wednesday evening, a spokesperson for Vanguard sent a statement to MarketWatch admitting that the house that Jack Bogle built was in fact the counterparty that made the error on GameStop data.
“Due to a clerical data entry error, yesterday we provided Fidelity with the incorrect “potential securities lending availability” data for Gamestop (GME),” read Vanguard’s statement. “The error was corrected shortly thereafter and before the markets opened. We regret this error occurred and apologize for any confusion this may have caused.”
According to insiders, the timing issue was a result of Fidelity taking its data feed from Vanguard and then updating later in the day. That time lapse accounted for Vanguard’s corrected data not hitting Fidelity’s trading tickets until just after noon EST.
And, like it or not, errors like this are not uncommon.