The market is currently down, with the Nasdaq down 0.2%, the S&P 500 falling 0.3% and the Dow decreasing 0.4%. 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.

The Utilities sector (XLU) is currently lagging behind the overall market, down 0.7%, and its current biggest movers are:

CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
Companhia Energetica Minas Gerais (NYSE:CIG)$10.98 billion-8.8%
Northwest Natural (NYSE:NWN)$1.22 billion-2.9%
Western Gas (NYSE:WES)$4.67 billion-2.1%
Southwest (NYSE:SWX)$1.98 billion-1.8%
NorthWestern (NYSE:NWE)$1.33 billion-1.7%
Williams Partners (NYSE:WPZ)$17.52 billion-1.5%
PG&E (NYSE:PCG)$17.84 billion-1.4%
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Currently trading at $11.74 per share, Companhia Energetica Minas Gerais (NYSE:CIG) has fallen 8.8%. The company's volume for the day so far is 3.3 million shares. This is 0.9 times its average daily volume.

Slipping 2.9%, Northwest Natural (NYSE:NWN) is currently trading at $44.01 per share. The company's volume for the day so far is 37,799 shares, 0.3 times its current three-month average.

At $47.56, Western Gas (NYSE:WES) has slipped 2.1%. This morning, the company is trading a volume of 45,817 shares.

After a decline of 1.8%, Southwest (NYSE:SWX) has hit a share price of $42.16. This morning, 34,814 shares have been traded, while it was 434,707 shares yesterday.

NorthWestern (NYSE:NWE) is down 1.7% to reach $35.12 per share. This morning, the company's volume is 52,322 shares. This is 0.3 times the current daily average.

Williams Partners (NYSE:WPZ) has fallen 1.5% and is currently trading at $48.63 per share. With 150,297 shares changing hands so far today, the company's volume is 0.2 times its average over the past three months.

Currently trading at $40.90 per share, PG&E (NYSE:PCG) has fallen 1.4%. The company is currently trading a volume of 1.4 million shares.

The Bottom Line On any given day, a particular stock may see positive or negative change in its share price. Paying close attention to the previous ratios will help you identify key times to adjust your strategy. 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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Tickers in this Article: CIG, NWN, WES, SWX, NWE, WPZ, PCG

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