Stressed Out: A Show of Strength for Energy Stocks

The energy stocks on the Real Money "Stressed Out" index of 20 troubled companies moved higher Wednesday -- in some cases sharply higher. The list includes Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (FCX) , Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) , Encana Corp. (ECA) , McDermott International Inc. (MDR) , PetrĂ³leo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras (PBR) , Southwestern Energy Co. (SWN) , Tidewater Inc. (TDW) , Transocean Ltd. (RIG) , Ultra Petroleum Corp. (UPL)  and Weatherford International plc (WFT) . All of those stocks showed strength in Wednesday trading.

Chesapeake for example is showing a 9.4% gain, Petrobras 8.7%, Southwestern 7.4% and Encana 4.5%. Oilfield services provider Tidewater is up 5.8% while Transocean has increased 4.3% and Weatherford is up 3.6%. 

The cause of the bump? Rising oil prices. West Texas Intermediate crude oil -- the U.S. benchmark -- jumped 3.53% on Tuesday to $31.45 and was trading slightly down by midday on Wednesday at $31.39 while global benchmark Brent crude oil gained 4% yesterday to $31.80 and was trading slightly up.

Each individual stock has its own story, of course. Freeport-McMoRan, a big copper producer along with oil and gas, released better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings on Tuesday, saying it was cutting costs and considering asset sales to pay down debt given weak commodity prices. Its CEO Richard Adkerson said on a conference call that the asset sales were over and above the potential divestiture of its oil and gas assets, which it's reviewing with Lazard and JPMorgan right now.

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