Energy Stocks Starting to Struggle to Stay on Positive Ground

Energy stocks have turned narrowly mixed in recent trade, with the NYSE Energy Sector Index rising about 0.1% while shares of energy companies in the S&P 500 were down about 0.2% as a group. Crude oil for December delivery was down 69 cents at $44.65 per barrel while December natural gas futures were 4 cents higher at $2.83 per 1 million BTU.

In company news, WPX Energy (WPX) rose Thursday after the oil and natural gas producer last night reported a narrower-than-expected Q3 net loss.

Excluding one-time items, the company recorded an $0.18 per share net loss, coming in a penny less than the Capital IQ consensus. Revenue dropped 38.3% from year-ago levels to $251 million, trailing the Street view by around $14.86 million. WPX shares were up more than 11% at $11.81 apiece this afternoon, retracing much of their earlier climb to an early session high of $12.09 a share.

In other sector news,  MRO, (+9.0%) Q3 revenue falls 7.1% to $1.23 bln but still beats the $1.1 bln consensus. Net loss of $0.23 per share misses by $0.04. Discloses plans to boost Q4 activity on five rigs in the Oklahoma Resource Basin. PEIX, (-8.0%) Reports surprise Q3 net loss of $0.09 per share compared with Street view expecting a $0.14 per share profit. Revenue rise 9.8% over last year to $417.8 mln, topping the $388.7 mln consensus.

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