Why GameStop shares surged 104%, prompting trading halts

One day after GameStop said CFO Jim Bell, would resign shares surged again

GameStop investors went on another wild ride Wednesday.

Shares of the video game retailer were halted twice by the New York Stock Exchange after surging more than 100% during the final hour of the trading session.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
GME GAMESTOP CORP. 190.04 -2.20 -1.15%

GameStop trading was halted at 3:38 p.m. ET and again at 3:46 p.m. ET due to volatility, according to the NYSE’s website. The company’s stock closed at $91.71.

GameStop posted its highest close since Feb. 3 and its largest-single day increase since Jan. 27, according to Dow Jones Market Data Group. More than 50 million shares were traded on Wednesday alone

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Shares surged one day after GameStop announced that its chief financial officer, Jim Bell, would resign from his post in March. The company said it has begun a search for a replacement CFO “with the capabilities and qualifications to help accelerate GameStop’s transformation” from a brick-and-mortar retailer to an e-commerce outlet.

GameStop (GME)

Bell’s departure, and the subsequent stock surge, marked the latest twist in what has been a wild year for GameStop. Despite dwindling sales in recent years, GameStop’s stock soared as high as $483 in January.

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Earlier this year, Reddit users active on the “WallStreetBets” forum and other retail investors began buying shares of GameStop and other stocks, including AMC and Bed, Bath & Beyond, known to be heavily “shorted” among hedge funds.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
AMC AMC ENTERTAINMENT HOLDINGS INC 38.87 -1.42 -3.52%
BBBY BED BATH & BEYOND, INC. 23.25 -0.37 -1.57%

The resulting “short squeeze” put several hedge funds in danger of collapse and prompted days of extreme volatility in U.S. markets. Day trading platforms such as Robinhood and others faced widespread criticism after they placed limits on transactions involving GameStop and other stocks at the center of the trend.

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On Tuesday, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy -- who was vocal during the GameStop trading frenzy -- skewered Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev in a scheduled online live debate.

During the 41 minute debate, Portnoy told Tenev that he and his app -- which champions stock trades for everyone --  "gave a huge advantage to the big guy that is the exact opposite of helping the little guy."

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Tenev said when his company stopped GameStop trades "we had to act to protect the firm and our customers, because if the firm can’t — I mean, if the firm can’t continue to serve our customers, that’s a much worse situation.”

Reddit’s website briefly went down Wednesday as GameStop shares surged. It’s unclear if the outage was related to activity on “WallStreetBets."