9-17-13 4:57 PM EDT | Email Article
 

By Claudia Assis, MarketWatch

 

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Energy stocks rose on Tuesday as U.S. equities got a boost from news Microsoft Corp. raised its dividend by more than 20% and set a share buyback plan.

 

The S&P 500 Index closed at six-week highs. Investors also awaited the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve two-day policy meeting that started on Tuesday. For more energy news, check out the Energy Ticker blog.

 

A policy announcement is scheduled for Wednesday at 2 p.m. Eastern. A press conference with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will follow.

 

Natural-gas producer Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) led energy stocks in the S&P, up 2.4%.

 

Chesapeake Chief Executive Doug Lawler sent a memo to employees Tuesday alluding to more layoffs at the natural-gas producer.

 

Several employees have lost their jobs in recent weeks, and Lawler said a company review is to be concluded Nov 1.

 

Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. (COG) and coal producer Consol Energy Inc. (CNX) gained 1.6% each.

 

Apache Corp. (APA) shares rose 1.4%. Analysts at Oppenheimer upgraded Apache stock to outperform from perform, citing "reduced risk" in Egypt, higher oil prices and lower debt.

 

The analysts had been among the main critics of Apache's presence in the North African country. Apache in late August sold a 33% interest in its Egyptian operations to China's Sinopec for $3.1 billion.

 

Oppenheimer said additional sales could boost the company's valuation.

 

Major oil companies also rose, with shares of Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) up 0.3%. Chevron Corp. (CVX) shares rose 0.2%, while shares of ConocoPhillips (COP) advanced 0.5%.

 

Lithuania's environment ministry on Monday approved a bid by Chevron to explore for shale gas. Lithuania's government has to make a final decision. Officials have said Lithuania could have between 30 billion to 50 billion cubic meters of extractable shale gas reserves. Russia's Gazprom OAO is Lithuania's sole natural gas supplier.

 

A handful of energy stocks traded in the red Tuesday, with refiners Phillips 66 (PSX) and Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC) among the hardest hit. Shares of Phillips 66 declined 1.4%, while shares of Marathon Petroleum declined 1.1%.

 

The SPDR Energy Select Sector (XLE), an exchange-traded fund focused on energy names, rose 0.5%.

-Claudia Assis; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

 

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

09-17-13 1657ET

Copyright (c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Copyright 2014 MarketWatch
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