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Monday's Energy Stocks: Broader markets, energy sector record gains

Broader markets and the energy sector settled the Monday, May 21, trading day on a high note, after the U.S. and China both agreed to drop their threatened tariffs on one another. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.21% to conclude at 25,013.29, while the S&P 500 advanced 0.74% to end the day at 2,733.01.

Southern Co. shares rose 1.66% on heavy volume to end at $43.44, following its announcement that it will sell certain assets in Florida, including its regulated utility Gulf Power Co., to NextEra Energy Inc. for approximately $6.48 billion, including the assumption of approximately $1.4 billion of Gulf Power debt. NextEra shares climbed 2.41% on about average volume to finish at $160.22.

AES Corp. gained 1.09% in light trading to close at $12.06. Fitch Ratings on May 17 raised its long-term issuer default rating on the company to BB+ from BB, following the completion of financial restructuring at its 531-MW Alto Maipo hydro project in Chile in May.

Among other electric utilities, PG&E Corp. added 1.01% to close at $43.21; SCANA Corp. was up 0.93% to settle at $34.64; and PPL Corp. advanced 0.75% to end at $26.92, all on somewhat below-average volume.

The S&P 500 Utilities Sector increased 0.59% to 248.47.

Among master limited partnerships, Magellan Midstream Partners LP is planning to expand the western leg of its refined petroleum products pipeline system in Texas. The western leg's capacity would be expanded to about 150,000 barrels per day from 100,000 bbl/d by increasing the pipeline size on the system's existing route. The partnership edged up 0.69% on light volume to $69.94.

A second large investor joined the call for Boardwalk Pipeline Partners LP sponsor Loews Corp. to make a decision soon to exercise its right to buy out Boardwalk's limited partners. The partnership earned 1.58% to close the trading day at $10.92.

In the oil and gas sector, Exxon Mobil Corp. rose 1.21% to $82.28; EOG Resources Inc. increased 1.32% to $127.45; and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. settled up 1.62% to $71.71, all in below-average trading. Formerly profligate U.S. drillers are doubling down on their new belief in fiscal discipline even as oil prices have sprinted to $70 per barrel.

S&P Global Ratings raised Natural Resource Partners LP's corporate credit rating to B from B-, with a stable outlook, citing the company's reduced debt and stable operating cash flows. In light trading, the company's shares declined 0.62% to $32.10.

The S&P 500 Energy Sector closed up 0.97% to 579.40 while the Alerian MLP Index climbed 0.67% to 269.4061.

June natural gas futures settled the week's opening session lower Monday, May 21, as revised weather forecasts point to larger improvements in storage injections as overall demand declines. The contract settled 3.7 cents lower on the session at $2.810/MMBtu.

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