Energy stocks were mostly higher this afternoon, with the NYSE Energy Sector Index climbing 0.7% while the SPDR Energy Select Sector ETF (XLE) was up 0.2%. The Philadelphia Oil-Service Sector index was posting a 1.0% gain and the Dow Jones US Utilities Index was ahead 0.9%.
Front-month West Texas Intermediate crude oil settled $0.20 lower at $80.44 per barrel while the global benchmark Brent crude contract was declining $0.19 to $83.23 per barrel. Henry Hub natural gas futures rose $0.09 to $5.59 per 1 million BTU.
In company news, Golar LNG (GLNG) rose 4% after Wednesday saying it secured a one-year fixed time charter for one of its liquified natural gas carriers with the potential to generate $36.5 million in revenue over its term.
JinkoSolar (JKS) increased 1.1% after the company's monocrystalline silicon solar cell produced a best-ever 25.4% maximum solar conversion efficiency as verified by Japan Electrical Safety and Environment Technology Laboratories.
Vistra (VST) rose more than 11% after the electric utility authorized a new $2 billion stock buyback program to replace its existing repurchase program that had about $1.33 billion remaining. The company overnight also priced a $1 billion private placement of 1 million shares of its 8% Series A fixed-rate reset cumulative redeemable perpetual preferred stock at $1,000 apiece.
Plug Power (PLUG) gained nearly 13% after it made an unspecified equity investment in privately held Airflow as part of a new strategic partnership to develop and certify a hydrogen fuel cell-based propulsion system for Airflow's short takeoff and landing aircraft. Plug Power also said it was working with Phillips 66 (PSX) to develop low-carbon business opportunities while Morgan Stanley increased its stock rating for Plug Power to overweight from equal-weight and raised its price target for the company's shares by $5 to $40 each.
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