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Wednesday's Energy Stocks: Utilities make gains, despite broader market decline

Broader markets ended Wednesday, April 5, trading mostly down, after the Federal Reserve signaled possible bond investment policy changes, and investors remained concerned over the progress of the Trump Administration's promised tax cuts.

However, the SNL Energy Index edged up 0.01% to 292.96. The Dow Jones Industrial Average retreated 0.20% to 20,648.15, while the S&P 500 declined 0.31% to end the day at 2,352.95.

Wells Fargo downgraded Exelon Corp. to "market perform" from "outperform," after opponents of Illinois nuclear power plant subsidies asked for a federal preliminary injunction against the program. Exelon ended the day down 0.22% at $36.06, trading in below-average volume.

Global LNG exports spiked in 2016 for a third consecutive year, thanks to exports from Cheniere Energy Inc.'s Sabine Pass facility, according to an annual report from the International Gas Union. Cheniere shares fell 1.43% on below-average volume to close at $46.77.

Dominion Midstream Partners LP dropped 1.41% to end the day at $31.50 on light trading. FERC rejected a request from a conservation group for a stay against Dominion Midstream's Transco-to-Charleston natural gas pipeline.

The SNL Midstream Energy index slipped 0.67% to close at 122.52.

NextEra Energy Inc. celebrated beginning commercial operation at two Kansas wind projects, the 206-MW Kingman Wind Energy Center and the 208-MW Ninnescah Wind Farm. Westar Energy Inc. is purchasing the electricity from both wind farms bringing its total wind generation to more than 1,700 MW.

NextEra shares gained 0.85% on below-average volume to close at $130.64, while Westar gained 0.11% in heavy trading to end the session at $54.66.

Duke Energy Corp. added 0.61% to close at $82.87 and Southern Co. added 0.82% to close at $50.43, both on light volume. The SNL Electric Company reflected the overall sector, moving 0.60% up to end at 454.85.

Sempra Energy's stock slid 0.85% in heavy trading to close at $109.44, following the announcement of its long-term compound annual EPS growth rate target of between 10% and 11% from 2017 through 2021.

NextEra Energy Partners lost 0.99% in light trading to close at $32.94. A subsidiary of the yieldco borrowed $200 million under a term-loan facility to pay for an indemnity holdback.

FirstEnergy Corp. gained 0.16% on light trading to finish at $31.78, Vistra Energy Corp. shed 0.06% in over the counter trading to close at at $16.48 and NRG Energy Inc. closed on the negative side of the ledger, down 1.01% at $18.69 on light trading.

The SNL Merchant Generator lost 0.14% to close at 84.97.

In the coal sector, Paringa Resources Ltd. accepted an offer for a fully underwritten five-year, US$20 million project loan facility from Macquarie Bank Ltd. to develop the Poplar Grove coal mine, part of the Buck Creek project in Kentucky. Paringa added 4.17% in over-the-counter trading to close at 50 cents.

Among top players, CONSOL Energy Inc. dropped 3.76% in light trading to close at $16.62, Arch Coal Inc. lost 0.91% in active trading to close at $72.19 and Alliance Holdings GP LP LP lost 0.21% in light trading to close at $28.29.

The SNL Coal Index dropped 1.33% to close at 71.37.

After climbing by 16.5 cents on Tuesday to settle at $3.293/MMBtu, NYMEX May natural gas futures pulled back overnight ahead of the Wednesday, April 5, open, as traders considered expectations for the early start of the injection season and a warming trend in forecasts that should dampen demand and allow for a ramp up in the pace of storage-building.

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