Top Energy Stocks
Energy stocks were mostly higher, with the NYSE Energy Sector Index rising almost 0.5% while shares of energy companies in the S&P 500 were up more than 0.6% as a group. West Texas Intermediate crude oil for June delivery was down 15 cents to $70.99 per barrel in New York, reversing a small gain earlier, while the global benchmark Brent crude July contract was declining 17 cents to $77.04 per barrel. June natural gas futures were 7 cents higher at $2.81 per 1 million BTU. Among energy-related ETFs, United States Oil was down almost 0.5% while United States Natural Gas was climbing more than 2.5%. The Philadelphia oil-service sector index also was climbing nearly 0.3%.
In industry news:
Crude oil prices were easing from their highest levels in since December 2014 as uncertainty over the effect of new U.S. sanctions on Iran, conflict between Israel and Iranian forces in Syria and declining U.S. inventories boosted prices. The proposed sanctions are expected to cut into Iran's access to the global oil markets and reduce supplies from the world's No. 5 oil producer, although Saudi Arabia has indicated it is ready to boost output if needed. Israeli military strikes on Iranian forces stationed in Syria overnight also was stoking market worries a wider Middle East conflict could hit oil supplies.
Natural gas was extending its prior gains on Thursday after new government data showed an increase of 89 billion cubic feet in U.S. natural gas inventories to 1.432 trillion cubic feet during the seven days ended May 4, marking only the second weekly build in domestic supplies following a weather-related, three-week delay in the traditional start of the injection season. The build reported last week by the U.S. Energy Information Administration narrowly trailed the consensus estimate expecting an increase of 92 billion cubic feet by industry experts polled by S&P Global Platts and was nearly twice as large as the 45 billion cubic foot increase reported during the comparable week last year.
Among energy stocks moving on news:
- Clean Energy Fuels ( CLNE ) jumped almost 21% Thursday after French energy major Total ( TOT ) agreed to acquire a 25% stake in the natural gas supplier for $83.4 million. The companies also announced plans to launch a new leasing program for "thousands" of new natural gas-powered heavy-duty trucks, with Total providing up to $100 million of credit support for the new program. Once complete, Total will be Clean Energy Fuels' largest individual investor, owning around 50.8 million shares. The transaction values Clean Energy Fuels at around $1.64 per share, representing a 14.1% discount to Wednesday's closing price, and is subject to approval by the company's existing shareholders at the company's rescheduled annual meeting on June 8.
In other sector news
- Marathon Oil ( MRO ) shares were trending lower on Thursday after the energy major announced a framework agreement with the government of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea to process third-party natural gas through its Alba liquefied petroleum gas processing plant and EG LNG's minority-owned production facility, both located in Punta Europa. The facilities will require minor modifications to accommodate the third-party natural gas, Marathon said.
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