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Thursday's Energy Stocks: Viper Energy jumps 10.29% on partnership exit plans

U.S. benchmarks closed Thursday, March 29, in positive territory on the last trading day of the first quarter, with energy stocks enjoying gains as well.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 1.07% to wrap the session at 24,103.11, and the S&P 500 added 1.38% to close at 2,640.87.

In the midstream sector, Viper Energy Partners LP shares soared 10.29% to end a brisk session at $25.41 after the company announced plans to relinquish its pass-through status. Viper's board of directors and general partner unanimously voted to make the Permian Basin shale oil and gas driller an entity subject to federal corporate taxes.

Concho Resources Inc. stock continued its winning streak, spiking 4.94% in robust trading to end at $150.33. The company's $9.5 billion purchase of RSP Permian, announced March 28, is being viewed as the start of a new era, to purchase an already established company in the field instead of buying new land to exploit later. RSP Permian's shares rose 4.18% on more than four times average volume to close at $46.88.

Exxon Mobil Corp. has acquired eight additional exploration blocks in the deepwater offshore Brazil, totaling about 640,000 net acres. Exxon's stock added 2.47% on slightly below-average volume to close at $74.61.

Pembina Pipeline Corp.'s shares gained 1.72% in light trading to close at $40.20 after it launched an open season for capacity commitments on its anticipated Alliance expansion project. Pembina's joint venture Alliance Pipeline Ltd. is offering an estimated 400 MMcf/d of additional firm gas service, according to a March 28 announcement.

FirstEnergy Corp. shares declined 1.10% on above-average trading to end the session at $34.01 after the company announced, after trading hours March 28, plans to shut three nuclear plants operating in PJM Interconnection.

Duke Energy Corp. shares added 0.06% on light volume to finish at $77.47, one day after Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC analysts downgraded the utility giant to "sell," citing high leverage levels expected to drive increased equity issuances in coming years.

NextEra Energy Partners shares lost 2.20% on high volume to close the session at $39.99, NRG Yield Inc. stock slipped 1.16% on below-average volume to close at $17.00, and Dynegy Inc. decreased 1.46% in average trading to finish at $13.52.

In renewables, SunPower Corp. gained 4.18% to close at $7.98 on thin volume and First Solar Inc. added 2.39% to finish a slow session at $70.98.

8point3 Energy Partners LP grew 1.93% in light trading to close at $12.15 after releasing fiscal first-quarter 2018 adjusted EBITDA of $13.1 million, largely flat from the prior-year quarter.

In coal, Contura Energy Inc. shares climbed 4.77% on below-average trading volume to finish at $67.00, after the company reported net income of $154.5 million on 15.7 million tons of coal sold in 2017.

May natural gas futures were higher, finishing below the session's $2.764/MMBtu high but still elevated as the market responded to an inventory withdrawal that trailed estimates but beat averages. The contract settled 3.5 cents higher at $2.733/MMBtu.

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