Energy Stocks Paring Earlier Losses Late; LNG Suppliers Hit Record Highs as Feds Revamp Permit Process

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Energy stocks were moderately lower Friday with the NYSE Energy Sector Index sinking about 0.3% while shares of energy companies in the S&P 500 were down about 0.2% as a group. Crude oil for July delivery settled 87 cents lower at $102.71 per barrel while July natural gas rose 2 cents to finish at $4.54 per 1 million BTU.

In company news, shares of Cheniere Energy Partners LP Holdings LLC ( CQH ) and other liquified natural gas companies rallied to record highs Friday after federal officials proposed overhauling the government's permitting process to focus on projects with the most commercial potential.

The Energy Department Thursday said it will no longer issue conditional approvals for proposed LNG terminals, with final decisions turning on companies completing environmental reviews for their projects.

In a statement posted on the Energy Department's website, Christopher A Smith, principal deputy secretary for fossil energy, said the proposals would "ensure our process is efficient by prioritizing resources on the more commercially advanced projects."

CQH shares were up nearly 11% this afternoon at $26.57 apiece, just 5 cents shy of its new all-time high set earlier today. Through Thursday's close, the stock had risen 26.3% since pricing its initial public offering of stock on Dec. 13, 2013.

Cheniere Energy Inc. ( LNG ) also was enjoying broad-based support today, with shares advancing 5.3% in recent trade to $65.85 each, just a penny off its new record high. Earlier today, LNG announced a new, 20-year pact with Iberdrola to supply the Spanish utility company with 400,000 tons of liquified natural gas per year.

In other sector news,

(+) AAV, Lenders increase the company's borrowing base by 33% over current levels to $400 mln following their annual review of the company's finances. AAV now has about $84.7 mln in borrowings, leaving $315 mln in available credit.

(-) WH, Scraps going-private transaction, with Wuxi Heavy Industries, WHI Acquisitions and General Transactions all releasing each other from any liabilities and obligations. No termination fees will be paid.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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