Energy stocks are broadly higher, with the NYSE Energy Sector Index advancing nearly 0.9% while shares of energy companies in the S&P 500 are rising 1.0% as a group. Crude oil for December delivery is up 15 cents at $94.76 per barrel while December natural gas is down 8 cents to $3.43 per 1 million BTU.
In company news, Berry Petroleum Co. ( BRY ) is up nearly 7% at $52.05 a share, earlier climbing to a new 52-week high of $54.00 after Linn Energy LLC ( LINE ) increased its offer for the oil and gas company by $600 million by boosting the exchange ratio to 1.68 LINE shares from its previous offer of 1.25 LINE shares for each BRY share.
The deal, first proposed in February, is now worth $4.9 billion, including assumed debt. The proposed merger has been stalled since July, however, when the Securities and Exchange Commission opened an investigation into the transaction and LINE's financial accounting. The closing date for the deal also was extended to Jan. 31; the firms had been hoping to wrap by year's end.
LINE shares are up about 3% this afternoon.
In other sector news,
(+) OXY, (+1.8%) Raised to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays.
(-) SE, (-0.4%) Q3 earnings of $0.42 per share, ex items, beats by $0.09. Revenue rise 6.7% to $1.14 bln, trailing the Capital IQ consensus by $110 mln. Completes drop-down of U.S. assets in Spectra Energy Partners MLP, setting up large potential future dividends.
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