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Economics

Hedge Funds Squeezed With Shorts Beating S&P 500

Speculators are abandoning money-losing bets that stocks with the closest links to the U.S. economy will fall as America’s most-hated shares stage the best rally in a year relative to the broader market.

The 20 stocks with the highest short sales in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose an average of 5.1 percent in December, compared with 0.7 percent for the full gauge, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The performance gap is the widest since January 2012. Companies from U.S. Steel Corp. to J.C. Penney Co. are gaining at the expense of phone companies and utilities, which usually do best when the economy contracts.