Rising Dollar Dampens Oil Attitudes

Brittney Barrett  |

The broader market fell again today as analysts doubted the feasibility of passing President Obama’s latest jobs plan. Attention returned to European debt contagion, particularly Greece’s debt crisis. In the hours following, concern led the euro to its lowest level in a decade versus the yen and a six-month low against the dollar. European bank and sovereign credit risk hit record highs as 10-year Treasury yields plummeted to their lowest documented point. The dollar was up for the day, causing a retreat in energy stocks.

Two of the largest energy components Exxon Mobil(XOM) and Chevron Corp. (CVX) fell in-line with the overall market. Diversified across several fields within energy, Exxon and Chevron don’t stand to lose as much from oils slide to below $80 a barrel as companies exclusively focused on it. Oil remains about the $80 level but looks poised to continue lower.

The decline in price has some investors worried that major oil names prompts will engage in fewer projects, meaning less activity for oil service companies.

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Companies that retreated on that fear included Halliburton (HAL) and Schlumberger (SLB), which were some of the hardest hit components of the sector today. They were joined by the land driller Nabors (NBR) which took a serious tumble in late day trading.

Among the few bright spots in trading today was courtesy of Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDS.A) and the U.K.’s Tullow Oil.  Friday it was announced the venture struck oil about 93 miles off the coast of South America. The companies drilled a 2,000 meter deep well which proved well placed when they discovered 70 meters of net oil. Despite the significant depth of the field, the company was unable to buck the market trend today. Shell has a 45 percent stake in the venture after it upped its interest in it last year.. Total SA (TOT) also has a stake.

Another bit of optimism on Friday was the Goldman Sachs upgrade of Sunoco Inc. (SUN) to neutral from its previous rating of sell. The financial firm also set the six-month price target of shares of the company to $47. The impetus for the upgrade was the businesses decision to exit its “structurally challenged” East Coast refining division which had been, according to the bank, hanging over its shares.

Goldman’s bump did little to help enthusiasm for the stock which retreated alongside with the rest of the sector, though with less severity.

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