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Tickers in this Article: HNP, PCG, NRGM, NFG, ATLS, PNM, WES
The Nasdaq is down 1%, the S&P 500 is trading down 0.5% and the Dow has slipped 0.3%, marking a bad morning for the market. 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 up 0.1% on a bad day for the market overall. The biggest movers in the sector are currently:
CompanyMarket CapPercentage Change
Huaneng Power International, Inc (NYSE:HNP)$10.76 billion-3.9%
PG&E (NYSE:PCG)$18.2 billion+2.6%
Inergy (NYSE:NRGM)$1.82 billion+2.4%
National Fuel (NYSE:NFG)$4.39 billion-1.6%
Atlas (NYSE:ATLS)$1.8 billion+1.1%
PNM Resources (NYSE:PNM)$1.71 billion+1.1%
Western Gas (NYSE:WES)$5 billion-0.9%
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Currently trading at $29.43 per share, Huaneng Power International, Inc (NYSE:HNP) has fallen 3.9%. The company's volume for the day so far is 27,690 shares. As a stock moves up or down, it is important to pay attention to the trading volume. This indicates the level of interest: the higher the volume, the more the interest.

After an increase of 2.6%, PG&E (NYSE:PCG) has reached a current price of $43.80. The company's volume is currently 1.8 million shares for the day, 0.8 times the current three-month average. If a stock is trading on low volume, then there is not much interest in the stock. On the other hand, if a stock is trading on high volume, then there is a lot of interest in the stock.

Inergy (NYSE:NRGM) has risen 2.4% to hit a current price of $24.74 per share. So far today, the company's volume is 31,776 shares. This is more trading activity than there was yesterday. Price change alone is not enough to know how a stock is doing. Volume is an important secondary indicator used to confirm trends suggested by price movement.

National Fuel (NYSE:NFG) is currently trading at a share price of $51.85, a 1.6% decline. The company's volume is currently 131,596 shares for the day, 0.4 times the average daily volume. When a stock price moves up or down, watching the volume is a good way of identifying how significant that shift is.

Atlas (NYSE:ATLS) is up 1.1% to reach a current price of $35.49 per share. So far today, 28,131 shares have changed hands. A stock's volume conveys how excited investors are about it.

PNM Resources (NYSE:PNM) has risen 1.1% and is currently trading at $21.73 per share. So far today, the company's volume is 80,865 shares, 0.2 times its average over the past three months. In technical analysis, trading volume is used to determine the strength of a market indicator.

Western Gas (NYSE:WES) has decreased to $51.80 per share, a 0.9% fall. The company is trading at a volume of 73,751 shares. This is about the same trading activity as there was yesterday. If a stock price makes a big move up or down, volume lets us know the significance of that move.

The Bottom Line No matter the economic climate, Wall Street will always have stocks that make major moves each week. Daily stock performance should be weighed against historical performance and put in context of the market overall. However, these fundamental metrics must be analyzed with historic data, industry information in addition to firm specific financial statements.

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