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Thursday's Energy Stocks: Markets hit new highs on reports of trade agreement

Markets hit record highs on Thursday, Dec. 12, following reports that negotiators from the U.S. and China have agreed on the terms of phase one of a trade deal, and now await the "go" signal from President Donald Trump.

As of 6 p.m. ET on Dec. 12, completion of a deal had yet to be confirmed.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average settled 0.79% higher to 28,132.05, and the S&P 500 advanced 0.86% to close at 3,168.57.

Oil and gas stocks surged and far outpaced other energy indices as the S&P 500 Energy Sector lifted 1.97% to 445.40.

Chevron Corp. gained 2.22% in brisk trading to finish at $118.81. The company reached a final investment decision to sanction the development of its Anchor project in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Chevron said it will need an investment of roughly $5.7 billion for the initial development of the Anchor project, which includes a seven-well subsea and a semisubmersible floating production unit.

According to analysts, Chevron's massive gas-related write-down for the fourth quarter could be a sign that other large integrated oil and gas majors, including Exxon Mobil Corp., could also announce impairment charges in the coming months. Exxon closed the day 2.00% higher in heavy trading to $70.34.

Shares of Encana Corp. rose 4.71% on strong volume to conclude at $4.20. The company will hold a special meeting of security holders on Jan. 14, 2020, during which the holders will vote on Encana's reorganization resolution to exit Canada, rebrand as Ovintiv Inc. and complete a consolidation and share exchange for effectively one Ovintiv common share for every five Encana common shares.

McDermott International Inc. was up 1% on light volume to 77 cents, after securing a technology contract for Next Wave Energy Partners LP's grassroots alkylate production facility in Pasadena, Texas.

Also of note, Range Resources Corp. climbed 13.55% on strong volume to $4.61; Bloom Energy Corp. saw a 10.11% increase in active trading to $6.21; EQT Corp. gained 6.89% on slightly below-average volume to $9.46; and Antero Midstream Corp. advanced 8.23% in brisk trading to $5.92.

The Alerian MLP Index was up 0.49% to 211.30.

Quanta Services Inc. closed 3.41% higher on strong volume to $41.55, after raising its quarterly cash dividend by 25% to 5 cents per share, or 20 cents per share on an annualized basis.

General Electric Co. shares were up 4.28% in heavy trading to $11.44. The California Energy Commission approved the premature decommissioning and demolition of GE's 10-year-old, financially struggling natural gas-fired Inland Empire Energy Center.

According to Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Solar Energy Industries Association, solar installations in the U.S. jumped 45% in the third quarter compared to the year-ago period, despite added costs from tariffs on most imported solar panels.

Among solar companies, Vivint Solar Inc. finished 9.15% higher to $7.75; Sunrun Inc. gained 7.43% to $14.17; and Sunnova Energy International Inc. added 4.73% to $9.75, all in brisk trading. Meanwhile, TerraForm Power Inc. shed 2.46% on light volume to $15.05.

Unlike other sectors, the S&P 500 Utilities Sector was down 0.49% to 316.92.

In other electric and diversified utilities, PG&E Corp. dropped 3.46% to $11.72; American Water Works Co. Inc. declined 2.04% to $118.43; and Xcel Energy Inc. retreated 1.29% to $61.36, all in active trading. Meanwhile, NRG Energy Inc. added 1.05% on below-average volume to $39.33.

Also, TransAlta Corp. slid 2.25% to C$8.67 and Hydro One Ltd. dipped 2.22% to C$25.59, both in heavy trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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