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Wednesday's Energy Stocks: Chesapeake jumps 12.65%, oil prices lift sector

A spike in oil prices propelled oil and gas stocks while utilities closed on the negative side of the ledger on Wednesday, Jan. 9. Brent crude advanced 4.63% to $61.44 per barrel, while Light Sweet crude climbed 5.18% to $52.36 per barrel.

Wall Street also settled with gains as the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.39% to 23,879.12, while the S&P 500 gained 0.41% to 2,584.96. Many Federal Reserve officials believe the central bank can "afford to be patient" on further increases to their benchmark interest rate.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. shares jumped 12.65% in brisk trading to end at $2.76, following a report that it cut spending more than expected while beating analysts' production estimates when it pre-released fourth-quarter 2018 operations results.

A pair of analyst commentaries went in different directions on Apache Corp., with one saying the Houston-based producer is undervalued, while another speculated that 2019 will be a difficult year, requiring spending cuts. Apache closed the day 5.11% higher in robust trading volume to finish at $30.86.

Antero Resources Corp. climbed 0.38% on strong volume to close at $10.51, after announcing plans to reduce its drilling and completion capital budget in 2019 due to falling oil and NGL prices but still raise production totals. Antero aims to spend $1.1 billion to $1.25 billion on a consolidated basis even though 2019 production is expected to increase 17% to 20% over 2018 guidance to a range of 3.15 Bcfe/d to 3.25 Bcfe/d.

Meanwhile, affiliated Antero Midstream GP LP, meanwhile, anticipates $750 million to $800 million in capital expenditures in 2019 and forecasts adjusted EBITDA of $870 million to $920 million. The partnership shed 3.22% on heavy volume to settle at $12.91.

Energy Transfer LP saw a 2.23% increase to close at $15.11 in heavy volume, after its subsidiary Energy Transfer Operating LP commenced and priced an offering of $4.0 billion of senior notes. Proceeds from the offering will be used to make an intercompany loan to its parent company and pay back nearer-term debt.

Shares of WPX Energy Inc. increased 1.01% in light trading to close at $13.06, following its acquisition of acreage in the Permian Basin of Texas from Texas Pacific Land Trust for $100 million.

The S&P 500 Energy Sector advanced 1.50% to 459.67, while the Alerian MLP Index rose 1.12% to 251.80.

In the electric and diversified utilities sector, PG&E Corp. edged 1.54% higher on brisk volume to finish at $17.83. Three vice presidents who oversee transmission for PG&E utility Pacific Gas and Electric Co. are retiring, as the company faces billions of dollars in potential liabilities from catastrophic wildfires.

SJW Group dropped 0.16% on below-average volume to close at $57.15, while Connecticut Water Service Inc. earned 1.98% in active trading to end at $66.43, after withdrawing their current merger application with the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. The companies continue to weigh their options, including the possibility of submitting a new application to the PURA.

Among other utility companies, SCANA Corp. lost 2.27% on more than 8x average volume to settle at $47.78, Duke Energy Corp. retreated 1.48% on thin volume to close at $84.81, and Pinnacle West Capital Corp. declined 1.39% in slightly above-average trading to finish at $84.66.

The S&P 500 Utilities Sector was down 0.65% to 267.67.

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