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Energy stocks outperform as US oil settles at new high

Christine Wang
Matthew Lloyd | Bloomberg | Getty Images. Shares of offshore drilling and services companies surged on Monday after UBS raised its price targets for several stocks in the space.

The energy sector (CME:Index and Options Market: .GSPE_WTD) was the best performing group in the S&P 500 (^GSPC) on Wednesday, gaining about 1.4 percent on the day.

The key energy ETF (NYSE Arca: XLE) gained about 1.4 percent, while the broader market inched up a little less than 0.3 percent.

In late morning trading, U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (New York Mercantile Exchange: @CL.1) futures hit a high of $51.90 a barrel, its highest level since Jul. 2015. U.S. crude later settled at $51.60 a barrel, its best settle since July 2015.

Transocean (RIG), Halliburton (HAL) and Newfield Exploration (NFX) were among the best performers in the sector, gaining about 5 percent, 4 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

The sector is also the top performer so far in 2016, gaining more than 16 percent year to date.

— CNBC's Christopher Hayes contributed to this report.

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