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Thursday's Energy Stocks: Sector weathers broader decline

Wall Street stepped back into negative territory Thursday, Oct. 12, though just slightly, while merchants and utilities managed to keep the energy sector afloat. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.14% lower to 22,841.01, while the S&P 500 saw a decrease of 0.17% to 2,550.93. The SNL Energy Index, meanwhile, increased 0.13% to 293.80.

PG&E Corp. plunged 6.72% to $64.50 on more than six times average volume after reports that its power lines may have been a source for devastating wildfires in California. The company said it was working with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to determine whether its equipment might have triggered a fire.

Eversource Energy rose 0.60% in active trading to finish at $61.67, after agreeing to sell its 1,200-MW portfolio of hydroelectric and fossil-fueled power plants, primarily located in New Hampshire, to a joint venture and private equity firm in separate transactions for about $258 million.

Among yieldcos, NRG Yield Inc. gained 2.41% in brisk trading to close at $19.10, NextEra Energy Partners rose 2.22% on strong volume to settle at $42.43, and Atlantica Yield plc climbed 2.01% in light trading to end at $20.80. Bucking the trend, shares of TerraForm Power Inc. declined 2.17% on heavy volume to finish at $12.60.

The SNL Merchant Generator Index was up 0.67% to 101.55.

Shares of Chesapeake Energy Corp. retreated 2.53% on below-average volume to end at $3.85, after the company released results of its ongoing cash tender offers for up to $550 million of its outstanding senior notes.

Genesis Energy LP lost 4.70% on about eight times the average trading volume to settle at $25.14, after lowering its quarterly distribution by 31% to 50 cents per common unit from 72.3 cents per common unit. The distribution will be paid Nov. 14 to unit holders of record as of the close of business Oct. 31.

Williams Partners LP signed gas gathering and processing agreements with Southwestern Energy Co. to provide midstream services for wet and dry gas production in West Virginia. Williams Partners edged up 0.38% in average trading to finish at $39.90, while Southwestern Energy declined 0.51% on average volume to close at $5.83.

The SNL Master Limited Partnership Index retreated 0.55% to 286.27.

On the coal front, Westmoreland Coal Co. slid 3.08% to $2.52, and Natural Resource Partners LP receded 2.11% to $25.55, while Foresight Energy LP advanced 3.41% to $4.25, all on weak volume.

The SNL Coal Index was down 0.62% to 65.00.

NYMEX November natural gas futures were higher Thursday, Oct. 12, despite the report of a storage injection that beat expectations and matched the five-year average. Short covering ahead of a warming trend that is expected to grip nearly the entire U.S. through the end of October drove the contract to a $3.008/MMBtu intraday and two-week high, before closing the session 10.0 cents higher at $2.989/MMBtu.

Market prices and index values are current as of the time of publication and are subject to change.