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Regulated electric utilities post top returns among SNL indexes in Q4'19

The SNL Electric Company Index remained the best performing among SNL power-related indexes during the fourth quarter of 2019, posting a positive return of 3.3%.

The regulated business models of electric and diversified utilities have proven a safe bet for investors, as well as earning good reviews from rating agencies, despite uncertainties related to PG&E Corp.'s bankruptcy, wildfire liability and low power prices.

The SNL Merchant Generator was the only power-specific index that posted a negative fourth-quarter return, down 2.1%, according to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The SNL Energy Small Diversified Index reported a total return of 1.0% and the SNL Energy Large Diversified Index posted a return of 0.2%.

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SNL Energy indexes tracking the oil, gas and sectors all posted negative results in the fourth quarter, with the SNL Midstream Energy Index posting a negative return of 1.4%.

Low oil and gas demand, surplus production and a global oil glut all contributed to lower oil prices, resulting in lower returns for oil and gas transportation and storage companies. However, the midstream sector topped the fuels indexes as the U.S. became a net energy exporter for the first time in 60 years.

The SNL Coal Index continued to post the lowest quarterly returns among SNL Energy Indexes, of 26.8%, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data. Layoffs and bankruptcies continued to roil the coal market in the fourth quarter as demand continues to decline.

The SNL MLP Index was down 3.5% and the SNL Gas Utility Index was down 2.7%.