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Friday's Energy Stocks: Midstreams buck trend, close higher to end 2016

Broader markets and the energy sector posted losses Friday, Dec. 30. The last trading day of 2016 saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average decline 0.29% to 19,762.60, the S&P 500 slide 0.46% to 2,238.83 and the SNL Energy Index move back 0.26% to 281.82.

Southern Co. retreated 0.36% in light trading to close at $49.19, after announcing a joint development agreement between its generation subsidiary, Southern Power Co. and Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. to develop approximately 3,000 MW of wind projects by 2020. The 10 projects have commercial operation dates between 2018 and 2020.

Among other utilities, NextEra Energy Inc. shed 0.60% to $119.46, Duke Energy Corp. declined 0.51% to $77.62 and Exelon Corp. slid 0.64% to $35.49, all on weak volume. The SNL Electric Company Index dropped 0.49% to 423.64.

Midstream companies bucked the broader selloff with the SNL Midstream Energy Index climbing 0.11% to 121.06. Williams Cos. Inc. gained 0.42% on thin volume to end at $31.14. The 1.7-MMDth/d Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline expansion proposed by the company's Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC received a passing grade in a final review by FERC environmental staff and after it hit a short delay as the staff considered alternative routes. FERC Office of Energy Projects staff concluded that there would be environmental impacts from the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline project, the bulk of which is to be built in Pennsylvania.

In other midstream stocks, American Midstream Partners LP rose 4.60% in above-average trading to settle at $18.20 and NuStar GP Holdings LLC advanced 3.77% on strong volume to finish at $28.90.

Coal posted the biggest losses for the day as the SNL Coal Index lost 1.82% to 77.06. CNX Coal Resources LP decreased 1.08% in weak trading to $18.25, Arch Coal Inc. gave back 0.10% on thin volume to $78.05 and Foresight Energy LP tumbled 8.62% on brisk volume to $6.47.

February 2017 natural gas futures extended losses in the week's closing session and the final day of trade in 2016. Profit-taking and fresh selling reflect a market that may be comfortable with the prospects for the end of season natural gas inventory despite a recent string of large storage withdrawals and weather forecasts that offer some demand support. The contract stumbled to a $3.690/MMBtu intraday low and settled Friday, Dec. 30, down 7.8 cents at $3.724/MMBtu.

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