The attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure has caused oil prices to spike and oil stocks to soar. It is no surprise, then, that the 12 best performing stocks come from the energy sector. What is surprising: The worst performer is an energy stock too.
The price of WTI crude oil has gained 10% to $60.35 at 10:29 a.m. today, while Brent crude, the European benchmark, has gained 10% to $66.50. That rise has given a boost to the energy sector—the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) has gained 2.4% to $62.53, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen 140.99 points, or 0.5%, to 27,078.53.
A quick glance at the S&P 500’s best performing stocks shows a who’s who of oil explorers and oil services-stock. Apache (APA), Marathon Oil (MRO), Helmerich & Payne (HP) Hess (HES), Devon Energy (DVN), Halliburton (HAL), Diamondback Energy (FANG), ConocoPhillips (COP), Occidental Petroleum (OXY), Schlumberger (SLB), EOG Resources (EOG), and National Oilwell Varco (NOV) make up that list.
But a quick glance at the S&P 500’s worst shows an oil stock too: Valero Energy (VLO). Valero, however, isn’t an explorer or a services stock that benefits from higher oil prices. It is an oil refiner, which takes in crude oil and turns it into other products. For Valero, oil is a cost, so higher prices squeeze its margins, all else being equal. Higher prices could also cause its customers to cut back on their spending if Valero raises them too much.
“The move [in oil prices] is problematic for refiners, as it will cause prices to spike and demand to be pressured as the market panics over oil risk,” writes Mizuho analyst Paul Sankey.