With the price of crude oil seeming to find a bottom earlier this week, it sent energy stocks off to the races. However, natural gas stocks in particular were strong this week, with five of the top movers, according to S&P Capital IQ data, being gas drillers Gulfport Energy (NASDAQ:GPOR), Range Resources (NYSE:RRC), Cabot Oil & Gas (NYSE:COG), Southwestern Energy (NYSE:SWN), and Eclipse Resource (NYSE:ECR).
For the most part, the only fuel that moved these stocks higher was investor enthusiasm returning to the sector. That was clearly the case for Gulfport Energy, Range Resources, and Cabot Oil & Gas, because not one of those companies had any company specific news. Instead, all seemed to move after Southwestern Energy announced a huge round of layoffs, in part because it's not currently operating any drilling rigs.
That was bullish for the sector because Southwestern is one of the top natural gas producers in the country, with the implication that if Southwestern is not growing production, it will really help to more rapidly ease the sector's supply glut. In doing so, it has joined a growing number of producers that have taken their foot off the gas on production growth. Eclipse Resources has likewise ceased growing its production. This is causing investors to bet on a future rally in the natural gas market later this year, after demand finally catches up with supply.