Energy Stocks Turn Lower As Crude Oil Settles Under $49 Per Barrel

Energy stocks were mixed in late trade, with the NYSE Energy Sector Index falling about 0.7% this afternoon while shares of energy companies in the S&P 500 still were up about 0.1% as a group. Crude oil for December delivery settled $1.02 lower at $48.70 per barrel while December natural gas futures finished 4 cents higher at $3.11 per 1 million BTU.

In company news, Whiting Petroleum (WLL) rose Friday after analysts at Raymond James today raised their investment call for the oil and natural gas producer to Strong Buy from Outperform, also increasing their price target for the stock by $2 to $16 a share.

The upgrade follows another analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. reportedly this week speculating Whiting could soon become a takeover target, citing its relatively low debt load and inexpensive share price. The company’s stock also enjoyed a boost yesterday after it reported “significantly improved” Q3 financial results, according to the Oppenheimer analyst, Fadel Gheit.

WLL shares were up more than 1% at $8.84 each, earlier climbing over 6% to a session high of $9.26 a share.

In other sector news,

(+) CLD, Reports surprise non-GAAP Q3 profit of $0.06 per share compared with the analyst consensus expecting an $0.11 per share net loss. Revenue falls 28% to $217.1 mln, narrowly trailing the $221.94 mln Street view.

(-) OII, Q3 revenue declines 26.1% from year-ago levels to $549.28 mln, missing Capital IQ consensus by $47.94 mln. Non-GAAP EPS of $0.17 beats Street by a penny. Reduces quarterly dividend by 44% to $0.15 per share.

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