Coal stocks are trading much higher today after Peabody Energy gave a bright forecast for the last quarter of 2012 on into 2013. In its view, coal demand worldwide will continue to grow as China resumes infrastructure spending, Europeans choose coal over natural gas for power generation, and India's coal imports reach record levels. In addition to these three factors, rising natural gas prices here in the U.S. are making coal economical again for utilities in many parts of the country.

Coal exports from the U.S. are predicted to reach record levels last seen in 1981, of over 112 million tons shipped overseas. Large export deals are being signed with companies like Kinder Morgan Energy Partners in the Gulf of Mexico and along the East Coast in preparation for this heightened demand. Coal companies have suffered over the past year and half domestically, but this uptick in ex-U.S. demand could be just want they needed for a sharp turnaround. 

Joel South has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Taylor Muckerman has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Clean Energy Fuels. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Clean Energy Fuels. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.