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Xcel Energy ( XEL) pushed the Utilities sector higher today making it today's featured utilities winner. The sector as a whole closed the day up 0.7%. By the end of trading, Xcel Energy rose $0.39 (1.3%) to $30.34 on light volume. Throughout the day, 2,561,290 shares of Xcel Energy exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 3,531,800 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $29.94-$30.36 after having opened the day at $30.09 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $29.95. Other companies within the Utilities sector that increased today were: U.S. Geothermal ( HTM), up 13.0%, Beacon Power ( BCON), up 8.3%, MDU Resources Group ( MDU), up 6.7% and Questar ( STR), up 3.4%.

Xcel Energy Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in the generation, purchase, transmission, distribution, and sale of electricity in the United States. It operates through Regulated Electric Utility, Regulated Natural Gas Utility, and All Other segments. Xcel Energy has a market cap of $15.0 billion and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are up 12.1% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are 2 analysts that rate Xcel Energy a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 11 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Xcel Energy as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, revenue growth, good cash flow from operations and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated.

On the negative front, China Hydroelectric Corporation ( CHC), down 15.9%, GreenHunter Resources ( GRH), down 10.1%, Dynegy ( DYN), down 3.9% and American DG Energy ( ADGE), down 3.3%.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the utilities sector could consider Utilities Select Sector SPDR ( XLU) while those bearish on the utilities sector could consider ProShares UltraShort Utilities ( SDP).

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