Investors got a little fear back on Wednesday, although the major market indexes ended the day well off their lows. Nevertheless, modest declines for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -0.19%), S&P 500 (^GSPC -0.16%), and Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC -0.60%) showed that the market is unlikely to move straight up from here. Bond yields also moved higher, reversing course and reminding investors that the bear market hasn't proven itself to be over just yet.


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Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Energy stocks got a boost on Wednesday as oil prices moved higher by about $1.50 per barrel to finish above the $88 mark. Of particular note were gains in blue-chip energy companies ExxonMobil (XOM 1.39%) and Schlumberger (SLB 1.04%), each of which had encouraging news that made shareholders happy.

ExxonMobil makes a move higher

Shares of ExxonMobil were up 4% on Wednesday. The company benefited from an OPEC decision to curtail production in an effort to shore up crude oil prices, but investors were mostly pleased with the comments that the company made in disclosures filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

ExxonMobil made an  effort to clarify that its third-quarter financial report won't be quite as strong as its performance in the second quarter of 2022. As energy investors know well, the steep decline in crude oil prices recently will have a substantial impact on ExxonMobil's results, with the company estimating a roughly $1.4 billion to $1.8 billion drop in earnings due to the decline. Even more damaging will be the erosion in margins for various refined energy products, which will hit earnings to the tune of $2.7 billion to $2.9 billion.

However, investors were pleased to see that strength in the natural gas market will be able to offset at least some of the downward pressure on ExxonMobil's earnings. The energy giant expects to pick up $1.8 billion to $2.2 billion in earnings as a result of better prices for natural gas.

In the end, shareholders seemed pleased with ExxonMobil's overall guidance. It guarantees a healthy year-over-year gain for the energy company even if it won't top the outstanding second quarter ExxonMobil enjoyed.

Schlumberger looks to boost its lithium business

Shares of Schlumberger had even bigger gains, rising 6%. The company is best known as an oilfield services company, but it announced today a partnership with global water-solutions provider Gradiant that will help Schlumberger's NeoLith Energy business.

Under the partnership, Schlumberger will gain access to Gradiant technology that will allow companies that are seeking to extract lithium from brine to generate fresh water as a byproduct of the production process. Gradiant should allow companies to get more concentrated amounts of lithium from their production in a more sustainable manner, avoiding some of the environmental impacts that lithium-generating processes have had in the past.

The move is an important one for Schlumberger as it aims to prove that it can move forward to serve energy producers with low-carbon and carbon-neutral business models. Given the high demand for lithium for electric vehicle battery production and other applications, there's no doubting that Schlumberger is aiming to take advantage of the strong growth potential the industry has.

Energy stocks are poised to post big gains if the economy can overcome the downward pressure that the Fed's interest rate increases are putting on it. With oil prices still at attractive levels historically, there's potential for more gains from Schlumberger and ExxonMobil ahead.