What happened

Moderna gave investors some hopeful news on Monday. The biotech said its vaccine candidate could be over 94% effective at preventing COVID-19 infections. Combined with similarly positive news from drugmakers Pfizer and BioNTech last week, the market began to look ahead to a post-pandemic economic recovery.

In turn, shares of energy companies Chevron (NYSE:CVX), ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), and Kinder Morgan (NYSE:KMI) rose 7.1%, 5.8%, and 4.1%, respectively.

So what

Coronavirus-related business closures and plummeting demand for travel services led to a sharp decline in oil prices during the early stages of the pandemic. That, in turn, resulted in steep losses for oil and gas titans Chevron and ExxonMobil. Even businesses that are less exposed to energy price fluctuations, like pipeline giant Kinder Morgan, saw reduced demand for their services and corresponding profit shortfalls. 

Investors responded by selling off shares of the major energy companies. Before today, Chevron, Exxon, and Kinder Morgan's stock prices were down 31%, 38%, and 48%, respectively, in 2020. 

A person is pointing to a digital chart that rises, then falls, then rises again.

Energy stocks rallied on Monday. Image source: Getty Images.

However, hopes that a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine could spur an economic recovery have ignited a rebound in energy stocks in recent days. And Moderna's news helped to accelerate the rally.

Now what

A sharp economic recovery would certainly be good news for energy companies, as the resulting higher demand for energy would be likely to drive prices -- and therefore profits -- up across the industry. Thus, Exxon, Chevron, and Kinder Morgan could see their stocks continue to rally as more progress is made on the coronavirus vaccine development front.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.