Recent retail flows into meme stocks hit January peak levels -Vanda Research

NEW YORK, June 9 (Reuters) - Retail traders have put as much money into so-called meme stocks over the past two weeks as they did at the peak of the frenzied GameStop rally in January, analysts at Vanda Research said on Wednesday.

Meme stocks have received $1.27 billion of retail inflows in the past fortnight, matching the peak in January, when retail traders piled into video game retailer GameStop Corp in an attempt to drive up the share price and punish short sellers by forcing them to cover their positions at big losses.

Meme stocks are companies that see their value fueled by social media attention.

At the height of the trading mania, several retail brokers restricted the buying of GameStop after collateral requirements needed to clear the trades spiked, angering many traders and spurring congressional hearings and regulatory probes.

The latest surge comes as individual traders in online discussion forums, such as Reddit’s WallStreetBets, have pumped up shares of companies including Clover Health Investments Corp , GameStop and AMC Entertainment Holdings.

The amount of cash flowing into meme stocks has been larger than any single sector or industry, even surpassing the S&P tech sector, according to Vanda, which tracks retail flows.

What sets these meme stocks apart, “is that they are absolutely hated by the hedge fund community, who have been piling into short bets for some time,” Vanda researchers said.

Sectors currently seeing higher retail participation include cannabis stocks and gaming stocks, while electric vehicle and space exploration companies, as well as cryptocurrencies have seen waning retail interest, Vanda said. (Reporting by John McCrank Editing by Bill Berkrot)