eNergy STOCKS: Energy stocks traded lower on Thursday as a rise in oil prices and strong earnings from natural-gas providers failed to dent bearish

An increase of 77 billion cubic feet in U.S. natural-gas inventories for the week ended July 27 matched expectations and sparked a 3% drop on natural gas futures, although it made a negligible impact on stocks from the sector.

Energy shares have been cooling off in recen days on the heels of big run-ups this year as investors ponder whether earnings growth in the sector may slow as costs rise and production volumes out of North America come under pressure. September oil futures advanced 80 cents to $76.33 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract hit an all-time high Wednesday of $78.77.

Energy stocks weak as oil rises
Against this backdrop, the Amex Oil Index (XOI :1,346.17, -9.74, -0.7% ) fell 1.1%, as investors looked beyond stronger-than-expected earnings from refiner Sunoco.

The Philadelphia Oil Service Index ($OSX :262.66, -4.06, -1.5% ) dropped 1.3%, while the Amex Natural Gas Index (XNG : 501.05, +3.96, +0.8% ) rose 0.1%. Shares of Sunoco (SUN :66.99, +1.72, +2.6% ) rose 3.4% to $67.44. Late Wednesday, the company reported a 19% increase in second-quarter net income.

Meanwhile, shares of Williams Cos. (WMB :33.24, +0.45, +1.4% ) tacked on 13 cents to $32.92. Early Thursday, the company came in with second-quarter net income that rose to $433 million from a year-ago loss of $76 million.

Shares of Patterson-UTI Energy (PTEN :22.77, +0.43, +1.9% ) rose 1.7% to $22.84, gaining after it reported second-quarter financial results that blew past analysts' expectations.
Via: Steve Gelsi