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Thursday's Energy Stocks: Oil prices usher most energy stocks into profits

Broader benchmarks on Thursday, Dec. 13, ended mixed in light of mercurial trade tensions between the U.S. and China. Increases in oil prices helped most energy stocks sneak into positive territory.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 0.29% to close at 24,597.38, while the S&P 500 ended the day down 0.02% to 2,650.54.

The oil and gas sector saw a profitable day, as helped by oil prices. The S&P 500 Energy Index gained 0.36% to close at 467.05, and Alerian MLP Index hiked 1.99% to 245.52. Brent Crude Oil prices increased 2.38% to $61.58 per barrel.

Canadian firm AltaGas Ltd. stock jumped 9.69% to C$15.05 on heavy trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The company agreed to sell its remaining 55% indirect equity interest in three Northwest British Columbia hydroelectric facilities for approximately C$1.39 billion to a joint venture controlled by Axium Infrastructure Inc. and Manulife Financial Corp.

Hess Midstream Partners LP shares rose 2.41% to reach $19.96 on above-average volume after it announced a possible trimming of its spending in 2019 while significantly boosting key financial metrics.

Oil major Exxon Mobil Corp.'s stock inched up 1.26% in below-average trading to $76.98 after its subsidiary Esso Australia Pty Ltd said it will push the development of the West Barracouta gas field in Australia after completing its front-end engineering design work.

Spectra Energy Partners LP shares moved up 1.70% to $35.83 after its unit holders voted to approve the master limited partnership's $3.3 billion merger into sponsor Enbridge Inc. Enbridge shares added 1.61% to close a strong session at $32.27.

Energy services providers McDermott International Inc. and Baker Hughes a GE company signed a memorandum of understanding with Australia-based Western Gas Corp. Pty Ltd to develop the Equus gas project in Western Australia. McDermott International slipped 3.44% to $7.59, while Baker Hughes stock rose 2.13% to $22.03, both on below-average volumes.

Among major gainers in the industry was ONEOK Inc. with a jump in share price of 2.91%, closing an above-average session at $61.45. On the other side of the fence, National Oilwell Varco Inc. lost 3.03% per share to $27.50, on roughly average volume.

Among major MLPs, Buckeye Partners LP gained 5.33% to $29.64; Holly Energy Partners LP's stock rose 5.31% to $30.17; and DCP Midstream LP's shares advanced 4.60% to $33.85, all on strong volume.

In the electric and diversified utilities sector, Entergy Corp. shares ascended 1.74% to $90.46 on roughly average volume. The company delivered 6,834,221 common shares at $74.45 per share for cash proceeds of approximately $500 million to physically settle a portion of its obligations under forward sale agreements with underwriters.

Northland Power Inc. stock grew 1.58% to C$23.19 on below-average volume. The Toronto Stock Exchange has approved Northland Power's normal course issuer bid, which will start Dec. 17 and end Dec. 16, 2019.

Most other companies also made gains. Consolidated Edison Inc. ticked up 1.77% to $83.93; NiSource Inc. stock grew 1.58% to $27.62; and CenterPoint Energy Inc. shares moved 1.56% up to $29.34.

In the renewables sector, First Solar Inc. stock gained 3.90% to $45.30 on active volume. In coal, Peabody Energy Corp. shares climbed 2.82%, finishing a slow day at $32.49, while CNX Resources Corp. stock shrank 1.54% to $12.76 on below-average volume.

The S&P 500 Utilities Index ended up 0.88%, closing at 287.02.

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