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Tickers in this Article: AVA, AWR, XTEX, PNY, EOC, TRGP, NJR
Currently, the Nasdaq is up 0.3%, the S&P 500 has decreased 0.2% and the Dow is down 0.2%. The utilities sector is a category of stocks for utilities such as gas and power. It contains companies such as electric, gas and water firms and integrated providers. Because utilities require significant infrastructure, these firms often carry large amounts of debt. With a high debt load, utilities companies become sensitive to changes in the interest rate. As interest rates rise or drop, the debt payments will increase or decrease. The utilities sector performs best when interest rates are falling or remain low.

These are the biggest movers in the Utilities sector (XLU) (+0.5%):
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
Avista (NYSE:AVA)$1.56 billion-3.5%
American States (NYSE:AWR)$818.3 million+2.3%
Crosstex Energy (Nasdaq:XTEX)$981.9 million+1.6%
Piedmont Natural Gas Company (NYSE:PNY)$2.32 billion-1.6%
Empresa Nacional de Electricidad (NYSE:EOC)$13.3 billion-1.4%
Targa (NYSE:TRGP)$2.1 billion-1.4%
New Jersey (NYSE:NJR)$1.91 billion-1.3%
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Avista (NYSE:AVA) has fallen 3.5% and is currently trading at $25.55 per share. So far today, the company's volume is 319,760 shares, 1.4 times the average daily volume.

Rising 2.3%, American States (NYSE:AWR) is currently trading at $44.25 per share. The company's volume for the day so far is 69,827 shares.

Crosstex Energy (Nasdaq:XTEX) is up 1.6% to reach a current price of $16.35 per share. With 43,321 shares changing hands so far today, the company's volume is 0.2 times the average volume over the last three months.

Falling 1.6%, Piedmont Natural Gas Company (NYSE:PNY) is currently at a share price of $31.75. So far today, the company's volume is 107,991 shares. This is a sign that there will be less trading activity than there was yesterday.

Empresa Nacional de Electricidad (NYSE:EOC) is trading at $47.93 per share, down 1.4%. At 19,006 shares, the company's volume so far today is 0.4 times the current daily average.

At $48.91, Targa (NYSE:TRGP) has slipped 1.4%. The company is currently trading a volume of 71,198 shares.

New Jersey (NYSE:NJR) is currently trading at a share price of $45.24, a 1.3% decline. The company's volume is currently 109,962 shares for the day, 0.7 times its current three-month average.

The Bottom Line The nature of the market is such that stocks will have good days and bad days. Daily stock performance should be weighed against historical performance and put in context of the market overall. Tools like valuation ratios and profit margins, however, are only as useful as the context you put them in; remember to take historical data and competitor performance into account.

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