Energy stocks turned higher this afternoon, with the NYSE Energy Sector Index rising 0.2% while the SPDR Energy Select Sector ETF was up 0.3% in recent trading.
The Philadelphia Oil-Service Sector index also was posting a 0.1% gain although the Dow Jones US Utilities Index was sinking 0.3%.
Front-month West Texas Intermediate crude oil settled $0.68 higher at $60.68 per barrel, reversing a morning decline after the Energy Information Administration reported a larger-than-expected drop in commercial inventories last week. The global benchmark Brent crude contract also turned higher, rising $0.25 to $62.99 per barrel while Henry Hub natural gas futures rose $0.06 to $2.52 per 1 million BTU.
In company news, Exxon Mobil (XOM) was hanging on for a narrow gain late Wednesday after Reuters, citing unidentified sources, said the energy major was working with Morgan Stanley to gauge interest in its advanced elastomer systems business.
IT Tech Packaging (ITP) rose 1% after saying it began construction on a biomass central heat and power generation project at an industrial park in northern China. The project is expected to generate about $17.5 million per year in steam heating revenue and another $6.5 million in yearly electricity sales once connected into the power grid.
Northern Oil & Gas (NOG) climbed 2.4% after late Tuesday saying it closed on its purchase of properties previously owned by Reliance Marcellus, paying $120.9 million in cash in addition to issuing warrants to buy up to 3.25 million common shares.
Overseas Shipholding Group (OSG) was 5.8% higher after the tanker company said it earned $0.33 per share during the 12 months ended Dec. 31, improving on a $0.10 per share profit during the previous year, while shipping revenue increased 17.8% year over year to $418.7 million.