[ENERGY STOCKS] Oil producers rise as crude sets fresh record of $129 a barrel

Chevron pushed to an all-time high for its fourth straight session as part of a bevy of energy stocks moving into new territory Tuesday, with the shares of petroleum producers moving up on the heels of a new record price for crude.

The energy sector shrugged off deep losses in the broad market and followed the price of crude into the green. Hedge fund manager and Texas oil man T. Boone Pickens predicted $150 a barrel oil this year on CNBC-TV, adding further fuel to petroleum bulls. June oil futures settled at a record close of $129.07 a barrel, up $2.02, as they expired on the New York Mercantile Exchange. During the session, the contract set an intraday high of $129.60 a barrel. On Wednesday, July futures begin to trade.

The Amex Oil Index (XOI:1,625.29, -4.80, -0.3%) rose 1% to 1,630, a record level. Hess Cop. (HES:130.78, -3.02, -2.3%) rose 2.4% to $133.80 and Occidental Petroleum (OXY:96.45, -1.40, -1.4%) advanced 2.5% to $97.85 as leading gainers from the group. The Amex Natural Gas Index (XNG: 731.88, -9.36, -1.3%) rose 1.2% to 742. The Philadelphia Oil Service Index rose 0.7% to 351.

Corp. (CVX:103.02, -0.07, -0.1%) rose 89 cents to $103.09. Earlier, the stock, which is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($DJ:2,601.19, -227.49, -1.8%) , touched $103.25 a share for its fourth straight day of all-time highs.

Several other energy companies hit 52-week highs on Tuesday including Continental Resources (CLR:60.19, -2.65, -4.2%) , which soared 23% to $62.84 after the Enid, Okla. company said it was pleased with the results of its first well drilling in the North Dakota Bakken Shale area.
Other 52-week highs include: Arena Resources (ARD:53.32, -1.85, -3.3%) , up 8% to $55.17, Forest Oil Corp. (FST:67.20, -2.01, -2.9%) , up 4% to $69.21, Suncor Energy Inc. (SU:143.84, -2.06, -1.4%) , up 5% to $145.90 and Enbridge Inc. (ENB:45.65, -0.02, 0.0%) , up 3% to $45.67.

Ensco International (ESV:74.11, -1.92, -2.5%) rose 3% to $76.03, a new 52-week high, as well as Unit Corp. (UNT:76.50, -2.07, -2.6%) , up 3% to $78.57, and Encana Corp. (ECA:95.09, -1.80, -1.9%) , up 2% to $96.89.

Soleil Securities analyst Jacques H. Rousseau said in a note to clients that refiners' share prices have fallen about 50% since the middle of last year, compared to a 7% decline in the S&P 500 on weak demand for gasoline. "We don't envision conditions deteriorating from these levels as refiners have reduced supply to be more in line with lower demand," Rousseau said.

Of the group, however, Tesoro's (TSO:24.27, -1.40, -5.4%) share price has the most potential downside from current levels and Frontier Oil (FTO:27.93, +0.67, +2.5%) has the least, he said. Tesoro rose 2 cents to $25.67. Frontier Oil fell 2% to $27.26.

Among energy shares in the spotlight, ExxonMobil (XOM: 93.67, -0.89, -0.9%) agreed to a $2 billion loan to help revive existing projects that have been held back by funding delays in Nigeria. The money will help Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation fund its portion of a joint venture with ExxonMobil this year. ExxonMobil stock rose 20 cents to $94.56.

And NorthWestern Corp. (NWE:25.25, +0.17, +0.7%) rose 3% to $25.08 as it debuted on the New York Stock Exchange after trading on the Nasdaq.

Among alternative energy shares, China Sunergy Co. Ltd. (CSUN:12.39, -0.34, -2.7%) fell 2.5% to $12.73. The company said its first-quarter net income fell to $545,000, or 1 cent a share, from $2.25 million, or 17 cents a share, in the year-ago period. The Nanjing, China, solar cell manufacturer's sales rose 32% to $77 million from $58.2 million a year earlier. Ethanol maker Aventine Rewable Energy (AVR:5.35, -0.57, -9.6%) fell 2% to $5.92 on the heels of a 25% rally in the previous session.

Source: MarketWatch|by Steve Gelsi

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