Energy stocks eased slightly this afternoon, with the NYSE Energy Sector Index rising 1.2% in late trade while the SPDR Energy Select Sector ETF (XLE) was up 1.8%. The Philadelphia Oil-Service Sector index was posting a 0.7% advance and the Dow Jones US Utilities Index was adding 1.1%.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil settled $0.26 lower at $90.50 per barrel while North Sea Brent crude was down $0.16 to $96.49 per barrel. Henry Hub natural gas futures rose $0.24 to $7.83 per 1 million BTU.
In company news, Occidental Petroleum (OXY) rose 3.9% after a regulatory late Monday showed Berkshire Hathaway (BKR.A, BKR.B) expanded its equity stake in the energy major, buying over $390 million of the company's shares since August 4. Following its purchase of 6.7 million Occidental shares, the investment conglomerate controlled by Warren Buffett now holds around 1.31 billion shares.
Noble Corp (NE) gained 3.8% after the offshore drilling contractor reported non-GAAP Q2 net income of $0.40 per share, reversing a $0.37 per share net loss during the same quarter last year, while revenue increased nearly 26% year over year to $275 million, topping the $273 million analyst estimate.
Devon Energy (DVN) rose 2.6% after Tuesday announcing plans to acquire rival oil and natural gas producer Validus Energy for $1.8 billion. Devon is expecting the deal will immediately increase all its per-share metrics and the company said it likely will boost its quarterly dividend by up to 10% after completing the transaction.
MPLX (MPLX) climbed 2.3% after the pipeline company late Monday priced a $1 billion private placement of 4.95% senior notes due 2032 at 99.433% of par. Net proceeds will redeem all or some of its 3.5% senior notes coming due in December and its 3.375% senior notes maturing next March.