It’s the kind of rescue that the most indebted companies in America can only dream of: a fresh injection of cash that doesn’t hurt their already depressed stock price or load even more costly debt onto their balance sheet.

Yet thanks to the army of day traders who use Reddit to tout and bid up out-of-favor stocks and squeeze short sellers, firms such as American Airlines Group Inc. and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. have found themselves on the receiving end of just such a lifeline.

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