May 7, 2018 / 2:38 PM / 4 months ago

BUZZ-Oil stocks gain as U.S. crude breaches $70 mark

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** Oil stocks up after light crude prices breached the psychologically important $70 mark

** Prices up to their highest levels since late-2014, boosted by fresh troubles for Venezuelan oil company PDVSA and upcoming decision on whether the United States will re-impose sanctions on Iran.

** ConocoPhillips is set to take over Caribbean assets of PDVSA, Reuters reported, adding to pressure on Venezuelan company’s falling output

** S&P energy index up 2.2 pct and on track for 2nd straight day of gains; top gainer among S&P 500 sectors

** All SPNY stocks in green; top pct gainers: Apache Corp 3.9 pct, Marathon Oil 4.7 pct, Range Resources 5.5 pct and Hess Corp 3.2 pct

** Exxon and Chevron amongst the top pct gainers on Dow Jones and helps to pull the index up 0.8 pct

** Morgan Stanley remains bullish on energy with support from oil prices; brokerage expects to see upside but with higher risks

** Top picks of MS include Encana Corp, Marathon Petroleum, Williams Cos

** Brent crude up 1.4 pct to $75.92 per barrel, U.S. crude up 1.2 pct at $70.53 per barrel

** U.S. crude breaches the $70 psychological barrier for the first time since Nov 2014; both U.S. crude and Brent crude set to see four straight days of gains

** The graphic below shows the relation of U.S. crude prices vs. The S&P energy index over the past 4 years (prices rebased to zero)

Reporting by Anirban Paul

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