Energy stocks were extending their Friday retreat, with the NYSE Energy Sector Index falling 3.6% in late afternoon trade while the SPDR Energy Select Sector ETF (XLE) was down 4.0%. The Philadelphia Oil-Service Sector index was declining 4.4% although the Dow Jones US Utilities Index was rising 0.7% this afternoon.
Front-month West Texas Intermediate crude oil was $2.91 lower at $76.10 per barrel while the global benchmark Brent crude contract was declining $2.52 to $78.70 per barrel, pressured by prospects of major economies tapping into strategic crude reserves to rein in prices and by the mounting COVID-19 cases in Europe. Henry Hub natural gas futures rose $0.16 to $5.07 per 1 million BTU.
In company news, Standard Lithium (SLI) added over 14% on Friday, rebounding from a nearly 19% decline during the prior session that followed short-sellers Blue Orca Capital alleging the company is misleading investors with its announced extraction rates of battery-grade lithium from its mines in Arkansas. In response, Standard Lithium said the report contained several "important" inaccuracies and misunderstandings and were designed to undercut the company's share price for Blue Orca's benefit.
Mammoth Energy (TUSK) rose more than 11% after saying its Aquawolf unit secured a contract from a major utility running into 2024 and worth up to $5 million to provide civil and structural engineering and design services, planning, drafting, mapping, permitting and construction support for an electric vehicle charging station network.
Marine Petroleum Trust (MARPS) climbed 1.1% after Friday declaring a quarterly cash distribution of $0.106743 per unit, representing a 66% increase over its $0.064312 per unit distribution during the previous quarter and reflecting increases in both the volume and realized prices of oil and of natural gas the company produced during the quarter.
Among decliners, Valero Energy (VLO) slid 5.5% after the refiner priced a $500 million private placement of 2.800% senior notes due 2031 and a concurrent $950 million offering of 3.650% senior notes maturing in 2051. The net proceeds, along with $750 million in available cash, will be used to fund the repurchase of selected senior notes issued by the company's Valero Energy Partners unit.