What: The price of crude jumped by as much as 7% today before ending up just less than 3%. That movement sent oil stocks on a wild ride, with Denbury Resources (NYSE:DNR), Encana (NYSE:OVV), Vanguard Natural Resources (NASDAQ: VNR), and Global Partners (NYSE:GLP) each moving double digits today.
So what: Fueling the rally in oil prices was a report that the Russian energy minister said that Saudi Arabia had agreed to a 5% production cut if Russia would agree to cut its own production in coordination with OPEC. That report, however, was later refuted by four different OPEC representatives, all of whom said there were no plans to have any talks on a coordinated production cut.
Still, the market saw this report as a positive, because it suggests that there's at least a chance that a production cut is on the horizon. This sent some of the most beaten-down oil stocks off to the races. Denbury Resources and Vanguard Natural Resources, which are both down more than 80% during the past year, exploded higher today, up by 20% and 30%, respectively, at 3:00 p.m. EST.
These companies would strongly benefit from the higher oil prices that would come from a coordinated production cut, making it easier for both to manage their debt. Meanwhile, Encana, which is down roughly 70% during the past year, doesn't have those same debt worries, but its stock still enjoyed a 15% rally on the day.
On the other side of the market was midstream logistics MLP Global Partners, which defied the crude oil rally, slumping more than 20% by mid-afternoon. That was after the company slashed its quarterly distribution by 33.7% due to the continued weakness in the crude oil market. It was a move the company felt it had to make because it's clearly not banking on OPEC, or anyone else, fixing the oil market any time soon.
Now what: If OPEC and Russia actually come to an agreement, oil stocks could really be off to the races because it would lessen the risk of a flurry of bankruptcy filings later this year. Such an agreement is a really big "if" at the moment, because Russia has been very reluctant to reduce its output, and it can't shut its oil pumps down during the winter. That suggests that the market is in for quite a bit more volatility, with whispers and rumors sending crude and oil stocks higher, while negative news will reverse those gains.