Energy stocks are sharply lower, following steep declines in crude oil prices, with the NYSE Energy index down 2.3% and a 2.1% fall for the S&P Energy index. Crude oil for April delivery is $1.83 lower at $104.89 a barrel while natural gas futures are up a penny to $2.37 per 1 million British Thermal Units.
In company news, Chesapeake Energy Corp. ( CHK ) and private-equity investors Kolhlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. are teaming up to buy exploration and production interests in important oil and gas basins throughout the United States. Both firms will provide $250 million to the venture, with CHK managing the royalty investment activities for a 10% management fee. CHK has acquired about $900 million in royalties over the past decade, with a company spokeswoman saying the deal with KKR will help it speed the pace of acquisitions.
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