Stone Energy Shutters Production from Wetzel County, WV Field

The Gilmer Free Press

Stone Energy Corp., an independent oil and natural gas exploration and production company based in Louisiana, has shut-in its largest field in Appalachia, curtailing between 100 and 110 million cubic feet equivalent (MMcfe) per day of Marcellus Shale production.

The company shut its Mary field in Wetzel County, West Virginia at the beginning of September, according to a September 24 announcement, leaving about 25 Mmcfe per day producing from the Heather and Buddy fields in Appalachia.

Despite exceeding projected production for the first two months of the third quarter, Stone said low commodity pricing, including negative differentials in the region, combined with fees for transportation, processing and gathering, have reduced the operating margins to an “unacceptable” level. 

“Production for the quarter is now expected to be below the previously stated guidance range of 39-41 Mboe per day, or 234-246 Mmcfe per day, and is being revised to 37.5-38.5 Mboe per day, or 225-231 Mmcfe per day,” the company stated in the news release. “If the Mary field remains shut-in, the annual guidance of 42-44 Mboe per day, or 252-264 Mmcfe per day, will need to be adjusted to account for these curtailed volumes.

“Given the low margins in Appalachia, the cash flow impact from the curtailed volumes is not expected to be material for the third quarter.”

Wall Street Ends Worst Quarter in 4 Years with a Rally

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U.S. stocks closed sharply higher on Wednesday as investors sought bargains among beaten-down stocks and the recently battered biotechnology index bounced back on the last day of Wall Street’s worst quarter since 2011.

For much of the third quarter, global markets were rocked by fears of slowing growth in China and uncertainty over timing for a U.S. Federal Reserve hike of interest rates. Biotech had a seven-day selloff kicked off by drug price regulation worries.

Investment strategists and traders said it was too soon to expect Wednesday’s rally to be sustainable. However, instead of trying to bet on the rate hike timing, Fenske said that investors will now focus on economic data and look ahead to the third-quarter earnings season, which begins next week.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 235.57 points, or 1.47 percent, to 16,284.7, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 35.94 points, or 1.91 percent, to 1,920.03, and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 102.84 points, or 2.28 percent, to 4,620.17.

For the quarter, the Dow fell 7.6 percent, the S&P lost 6.9 percent and Nasdaq fell 7.4 percent. For September, the Dow fell 1.5 percent while the S&P dropped 2.6 percent and Nasdaq fell 3.3 percent.

Trading was heavy on Wednesday with 8.52 billion shares changing hands on U.S. exchanges, above the 7.28 billion average for the previous 20 sessions, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The Fed has said it needs to see more improvement in the labor market and be confident that inflation will increase before raising rates for the first time since 2006. Inflation remains below the Fed’s 2-percent target.

Yellen said last week the central bank remained on track to raise rates this year. The Fed meets next on Oct. 27-28.

Data on Wednesday showed the U.S. private sector added more jobs than expected in September, raising hopes for a strong reading in the government’s payrolls report due Friday.

All 10 S&P sectors were higher, with the consumer discretionary index’s .SPLRCD 2.7 percent rise leading the gains. The Nasdaq biotechnology index .NBI closed up 4.5 percent as investors sought bargains in the sector, but was still down 11.5 percent for the month after Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton criticized drug pricing last week.

Although the market’s recent rout has forced many strategists to slash expectations, a Reuters poll showed the S&P 500 is expected to end 2015 roughly 11 percent above current levels.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,340 to 758, for a 3.09-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 2,063 issues rose and 783 fell for a 2.63-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 3 new 52-week highs and 18 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 22 new highs and 179 new lows.

How You Use Credit Cards Changes This Week

The Gilmer Free Press

Credit card purchases are about to get a little slower and a lot more secure. Consumers have been receiving new cards with fraud-prevention chips and on Thursday, a lot more retailers will be asking customers to put their card in a reader instead of swiping it, reports the Los Angeles Times. Oct. 1 is the day that the credit card industry will start shifting liability for fraudulent transactions to issuers and merchants that haven’t adopted the new technology, which is already used in much of the rest of the world and is credited with dramatically reducing fraud by making it harder to duplicate cards. Cards without chips will continue to work until they expire, though experts tell the New York Times that consumers who have the choice should always opt to dip a card in a reader instead of swiping it.

The chips in the new cards use a system known as EMV, for creators Europay, MasterCard, and Visa. They contain buyer information and add an extra level of security by creating a new code for every purchase, Tech Times explains. In Europe, consumers need to enter a PIN, but US retailers will only require signatures. Around 70% of cards will have chips by the end of this year, according to the LA Times, though the full switch is expected to take years. Retailers worry that the extra few seconds per purchase will slow down businesses at peak times—and that more fraud will now take place online. “It’s like closing the front door but leaving the back door open,“ a National Retail Federation exec tells the New York Times. “The thieves will figure out that the back door is unlocked.“

S&P 500 Bounces Back after Nearing August Low

The Gilmer Free Press

U.S. stocks ended higher after a volatile session on Tuesday as concerns about the health of the global economy kept investors cautious after more than a month of turbulence.

The S&P 500 recovered after falling earlier to within 0.26 percent of lows it touched in August, when fears of a slowdown in China shocked global markets.

“I would never have expected that we would take out that low and we haven’t yet, but we sure are close. A retest is a good thing but it needs to hold,“ said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin.

Seven of the 10 S&P sectors rose, with the healthcare index .SPXHC up 0.9 percent, ending a seven-day losing streak, thanks in part to gains in Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) and Gilead Sciences (GILD.O).

Pharmaceutical and biotech stocks had faced pressure after Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton criticized drug pricing last week.

The Nasdaq Composite ended lower and the S&P technology index .SPLRCT dipped 0.55 percent. Apple fell 3.01 percent a day after reporting record first-weekend sales of its newest iPhones.

Although the market’s recent rout has forced many strategists to slash their year-end expectations, a new Reuters poll shows the S&P 500 ending 2015 roughly 11 percent above current levels.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 0.3 percent to end with 16,049.13 points and the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.12 percent to 1,884.09. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 0.59 percent to 4,517.32.

Investors are awaiting data scheduled to be released this week, culminating in nonfarm payrolls numbers on Friday.

A report on Tuesday showed the consumer confidence index rose to 103.0 in September, topping economists’ expectation of 96.1.

With third-quarter earnings season looming, Goldman Sachs said it expects sales growth for S&P 500 companies to shrink this year for the first time in five years.

After the bell, Diamond Foods (DMND.O) posted fiscal fourth-quarter sales that missed Wall Street’s expectations and its stock lost 4 percent.

During the regular session, Yahoo (YHOO.O) shares rose 2.39 percent, a day after the Internet company’s board decided to proceed with spinning off Alibaba (BABA.N) stake.

Nexstar (NXST.O) rose 8.00 percent after activist investor Starboard Value LP urged regional TV company Media General (MEG.N) to sell itself to Nexstar. [ID: nL3N11Z4EU]

Republic Airways (RJET.O) surged 12.85 percent after Deutsche Bank raised the stock to “buy” and the airline reached agreement on new contract with its pilots.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,732 to 1,353. On the Nasdaq, 1,759 issues fell and 1,053 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed one new 52-week high and 70 lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 15 new highs and 323 lows.

About 7.9 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, above the 7.3 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days.

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