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Tuesday's Energy Stocks: Sector rises with utilities, but coal companies crushed

Gas and electric utilities led the energy sector back to recovery as the SNL Gas Utility Index climbed 1.90% to 544.77 and the SNL Electric Company Index picked up 1.29% to 430.04. The SNL Energy Index advanced 1.04% to 286.81.

Wall Street, however, extended its previous day's losses as uncertainty lingered among investors over new protectionist policies. The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 0.54% to 19,864.09, while the S&P 500 dipped 0.09% to 2,278.87.

Exelon Corp. shot up 2.40% in robust trading to end at $35.88, after boosting its common stock dividend to 32.75 cents per share from 31.8 cents. The new dividend will be payable March 10 to stockholders of record Feb. 15.

TerraForm Global Inc. rose 1.15% on slim volume to finish at $4.40, after reporting its financial results for the second quarter of 2016. The yieldco posted adjusted EBITDA of $45 million, net income of $6 million, net revenue of $56 million and cash available for distribution of $43 million.

Among other utilities, NiSource Inc. gained 2.43% to close at $22.37 on average volume, Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. added 2.41% to $44.25 on above-average volume, PNM Resources Inc. ascended 2.38% in strong trading to $34.40, Great Plains Energy Inc. moved higher by 2.30% on light volume to $27.55 and El Paso Electric Co. ended up 2.23% in light trading to $45.90.

In midstream stocks, Azure Midstream Partners LP shrank 68.34% on more than 15 times the average volume to settle at 25.01 cents, a trading day after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which is expected to include a restructuring plan and the sale of all or substantially all of its assets. The partnership struck an agreement with lenders under its Feb. 27, 2015, credit agreement and expects operations to continue as usual as it maintains enough liquidity to do so until the planned sale materializes.

Crestwood Equity Partners LP took in 3.58% in light trading to $27.45, NuStar GP Holdings LLC rose 3.34% on more than double average volume to $30.90 and ONEOK Inc. climbed 2.49% in above-average trading to $55.11. The SNL Midstream Energy Index inched up 0.39% to 124.17.

Coal companies ended mostly in the red, pulling the SNL Coal Index down 3.50% to 76.00.

Following the announcement that it has sold 98% of its coal targets for 2017 and is now moving into the following years, CNX Coal Resources LP shed 3.07% in average trading to $18.95.

Speaking on an earnings call, CEO Jimmy Brock said the company had a "solid position" of approximately 66% of 2018 coal sold. While international metallurgical coal prices have declined a bit from the autumn of 2016, Brock said, "This remains a very attractive market for us" — particularly in the international high-vol coal market.

Meanwhile, CONSOL Energy Inc. is continuing with its plans to separate its coal and natural gas businesses and could have its plan finalized in 2017.

In its earnings release, CONSOL said it was pursuing a number of different approaches to further its plan to separate the coal and exploration and production business, including the possible sale of the coal assets to a third party or a spinoff to CONSOL's shareholders. CONSOL tumbled 7.43% on almost three times the normal volume to settle at $16.94.

Cloud Peak Energy Inc. dropped 3.72% to $5.69, Alliance Resource Partners LP lost 2.66% to $23.80 and Foresight Energy LP fell 0.42% to $7.05.

March natural gas traded lower Tuesday, Jan. 31, as fundamental support continued to evade the market. Price pressure continued from weak weather-related demand outlooks and from a natural gas supply expected to remain ample at the end of the withdrawal season. The contract breached support at $3.25/MMBtu to find a $3.110/MMBtu three-week intraday low before settling 11.5 cents lower at $3.117/MMBtu.

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