After increasing 2% before the markets opened, the NYMEX July Oil (CLN12.NYM) benchmark vanquished all its gains, losing 2.62%. The early spike in crude prices was reasonable because of encouraging signs out of China, as the world's second largest economy increased its importation of oil in May by 10% compared with a month earlier. Also, the $125 billion Spanish bank bailout originally created increased enthusiasm that the monetary infusion would lead investors back into Spanish government-issued bonds.
However, the Spanish bailout contentment was short-lived, as investors continued to flee from Spanish debt, causing uncertainty in a eurozone recovery and increasing the likelihood of worldwide economic slowdown. Also, an increase in United States crude production as well as Saudi Arabia's determination to increase OPEC production is causing oil prices to retreat slightly. The Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI) also succumbed to heavy selling pressure and lost 1.14% today.
Today's energy outlook
The Dow's integrated oil and gas components performed slightly better than the index, with Chevron (NYS: CVX) losing 0.92% and ExxonMobil (NYS: XOM) lowering by 0.71%. Both of these companies are in a better position than their smaller competitors because of their large portfolios of international assets and access to cheaper oil. Energy shares fell by an average of 2% in the S&P 500.
The non-Dow component EnergySolutions (NYS: ES) was by far the worst performer today, down more than 50%, as the nuclear decontamination and decommissioning firm suddenly announced a change in leadership, with Val John Christensen out and David Lockwood becoming the new skipper. In addition to the sudden and unexpected change, EnergySolutions revised its annual outlook, from a range of $150 million to $160 million down to a range of $130 million to $140 million. Lowering a company's economic outlook or sudden changes in key personal typically causes sharp spikes in equity prices, but a 50% drop makes us believe there is more trouble on the horizon.
RadWaste Monitor, a trade publication, reported that EnergySolutions could be splitting the company by selling its nuclear waste government-projects group. The company lost a five-year, $121.2 million contract in March, which comes on the heels of a 45% drop over the past year of the government group's revenue.
We're coming off one of the best weeks so far this year, but as we get closer to the June 17 Greek elections, volatility is sure to increase. Today showed how precarious the eurozone situation is. The Spanish banking bailout discussion was well received over the weekend, but it became discounted as more ominous troubles loom on the horizon. The international economic picture presents complex problems that can only be treated in small doses, so expect some turbulence for the foreseeable future. With increased instability expected in the market, now is a great time to check out The Motley Fool's special report describing 3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich. This free report will list three remarkable companies as well as offer great advice on how to invest to secure a comfortable retirement -- get your free report now.
At the time this article was published Joel South owns shares of no company listed above. The Motley Fool owns shares of EnergySolutions. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Chevron. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
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