Making steady progress since Monday against a rising tide of declining energy stock prices, Atlanta, GA-based Southern Co., Akron, OH-based FirstEnergy and New Jersey-based GPU Inc. again were on the plus side Wednesday. It wasn’t hard to figure, as U.S. aircraft carriers steamed toward the Caribbean and the Middle East, with fighter planes expected to follow soon. The three utilities own no foreign facilities.

“What you’re seeing is that with the current uncertainty, Southern is viewed as a safe haven,” company spokesman Marc Rice told NGI. “We have dependable earnings and we’re a completely American business. We have no overseas business.” In addition, Southern’s power is about 70% coal-fired and about 20% from nuclear plants. “We’re not vulnerable on the fuel side. We don’t like to benefit from events like these, but it appears people are seeking certainty.”

Southern’s stock was up more than 2% or 50 cents Wednesday, closing at $24.74. FirstEnergy was up 2.94% to $33.25 and GPU was up 2.53% to $38.55. Most other energy stocks of all persuasions were down.

At the other end of the scale, Baker Hughes led the downtrend in oil service companies with a drop of 10.07% to $28.95. Stock declines by other service firms hovered around 7-8%. Two of the leading natural gas and power marketers, Enron and Dynegy, continued to plunge. Enron was off 5.95% to $26.41, while Dynegy dropped 6.35% to $33.80. Williams also fell 5.30% to $26.79.

Independent producers also fell between 2% and 10% Wednesday, with many coming in around 4% to 5% off. Apache Corp. continued a three-day decline, dropping 5.42% Wednesday to $41.87. The majors were slightly more stable with declines of 2-5% Wednesday. Shell, which revised downward its production expectations Wednesday, was off 5.19% to $48.05. ExxonMobil held its losses to 2.71% to $38.41.

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