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Wednesday's Energy Stocks: Sector, broader markets climb as Fed holds rates steady

Energystocks moved upward along with the broader markets on Wednesday, April 27,after the Federal Open Market Committee kept the key federal funds rateunchanged at between 0.25% and 0.50%.

The SNLEnergy Index rose 1.70% to 268.47, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed0.28% to 18,041.55 and the S&P 500 gained 0.16% to 2,095.15.

"Thestatement provided more dovish elements and some more hawkish elements, but theFed is still on the fence and a June hike still a possibility. The confusedswings in yields, stocks and the dollar in wake of the statement indicate theFed has done its job with opacity, a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing,"S&P Capital IQ analysts said in its U.S. market summary.

The10-year Treasury yield fell to 1.87% from 1.94%.

rose 0.69% in heavytrading to end at $49.54 after reporting$532 million, or 58 cents per share, in first-quarter 2016 income excludingspecial items. TheS&P Global Market Intelligence normalized EPS consensus estimate was 53cents.

S&PCapital IQ analysts are maintaining their "sell" opinion and their12-month target at $47 on Southern shares, due to lower estimates offsets byhigher peer valuations. The full-year EPS estimates, however, were lowered by10 cents to $2.85 for 2016, and by 7 cents to $2.97 for 2017.

"Whilewe see strong capital spending, we see relatively slow EPS growth over the nextfew years," the analysts said.

Southernmanagement said during the company's earnings call they expect competitivegeneration subsidiary SouthernPower Co. to continue to exceed aggressive growth forecasts,with an emphasis on wind assetacquisitions.

climbed 4.83%in strong volume to finish at $36.05 after its first-quarter 2016 operatingearnings of 80 cents per share beatthe S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus normalized EPS estimate of 76cents. The company released its results after market hours on April 26.

"Weare off to a solid start in 2016, with strong financial results that are inline with our first quarter guidance, as well as positive developments in ourkey initiatives, and continued implementation of our regulated growthstrategies," FirstEnergy President and CEO Charles Jones said.

Duringthe April 27 earnings call, company executives said they continue to stand bytheir belief that FERC will rejecta complaint tied to their recently approved plan to have customers subsidize "key"economically challenged power plants.

lifted 0.40% inweak volume to close at $25.11 after announcingthe retirement of President, CEO and Chairman Ronald Jibson upon the completionof the company's merger with DominionResources Inc.

Dominionshares advanced 1.22% in above-average trading to close at $70.75.

the solar sector'searning season, reporting results after-market hours. The company recordedfirst-quarter 2016 net income of $170.6 million, or $1.66 per share, and netsales of $848.5 million. Analysts expected First Solar to report earnings of 97cents per share on $972.8 million in revenue, according to the S&P GlobalMarket Intelligence consensus estimate.

FirstSolar closed up 1.29% to $62.03 on brisk volume and shares were down by morethan 5% in after-hours trading.

On abroader view of the solar sector, Avondale Partners LLC senior analyst MichaelMorosi said he expects industry earnings to be marked by "strong volumes,a bullish outlook for bookings and installation growth, and cautious commentaryregarding project margins."

gained 1.51%in below-average trading to close at C$51.72. The National Energy Board has setan extended timelineto reach a decision on the company's C$15.7 billion Energy East project inMarch 2018, nine months before the 4,600-kilometer line was originally supposedto be in service.

Inaddition to consideration by the board, known as the NEB, a decision by Canada'sfederal government will not come for at least three more months as theenvironment department conducts a separate review of the project.

Inother midstream stocks, EnbridgeInc. lifted 0.89% to $41.94, Enterprise Products Partners LP rose 1.02% to $27.13 andKinder Morgan Inc.gained 2.18% to $18.29, all in thin volume. The SNL Midstream Energy Indexsettled 2.27% higher to 109.44.

Amongcoal stocks, Alliance Holdings GPLP climbed 5.18% in active trading to end at $18.69, gained 4.28% in heavy volume to close at $15.83 and advanced 0.98% inweak trading to finish at $2.06. The SNL Coal Index rose 7.34% to 52.85.

Maynatural gas futures rolled off the board at the close of business April 27,having shed additional value, as the market considers limited demand expectedto be generated by weather as the shoulder season marches on. Relinquishinganother 3.7 cents, May futures settled and expired at $1.995/MMBtu. Junenatural gas settledthe midweek session with a loss of 0.6 cent at $2.153/MMBtu.

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