Most regional stocks avoid hard swings

Published 1:23 pm Thursday, October 16, 2008

Most stocks in Louisiana and Mississippi companies avoided the hard swings that have dominated and dazed Wall Street this month as the Dow Jones industrials lost less than a percentage point Tuesday.

The biggest gainers on a percentage basis among regional companies were independent petroleum producer PetroQuest Energy Inc., which jumped 12 percent, or 98 cents per share, to close at $9.16 and regional banker Whitney Holding Co., which rose 11.4 percent, or $2.17 to close at $21.14.

On the downside were petroleum producer McMoran Exploration Co, which shed 9.4 percent, or $1.40, to $13.46, and billboard provider Lamar Advertising Co., which dropped 8.2 percent, or $1.88, to close at $21.02.

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It was the first time in nine sessions that the Dow Jones didn’t close up or down in triple digits although it did swing in a 700-point range during the session. The Dow closed down 76 points, a day after its record 936-point jump.

Light, sweet crude for November delivery fell $2.56 to settle at $78.63 on the New York Mercantile Exchange after fluctuating between positive and negative territory for most of the day.

In addition to Whitney, almost all stocks were up in the financial sector.

BancorpSouth Inc. rose 87 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $26.50. MidSouth Bancorp Inc. was up 30 cents, or 1.9 percent, at $16.20. Iberiabank Corp. rose $1.05, or 2 percent, to close $52.74.

Hancock Holding Co. dropped $1.68, or 3.4 percent., to $48.05.

In the petroleum sector, Stone Energy Corp. gained 34 cents, or 1.1 percent, to close at $31.05. Energy Partners Ltd. added 13 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $5.97. Callon Petroleum Co. fell 21 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $10.62.

In the petroleum support sector, Tidewater Inc. was down 22 cents, or 0.5 percent, to close at $42.82. Hornbeck Offshore Inc. shed 42 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $27.73.

Construction-engineering company The Shaw Group Inc. rose 17 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $20.36.

Chemical maker Albemarle Corp. lost 34 cents, or 1.3 percent, to close at $25.48.

Telecommunications provider CenturyTel Inc. rose $1.67, or 5 percent, to $35.05.

In the medical sector, LHC Group Inc. gained $1.05, or 3.8 percent, to $28.46. Amedisys Inc. rose 33 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $51.81.

Poultry producer Sanderson Farms Inc. was up 58 cents, or 1.6 percent, to close at $36.75. Egg producer Cal-Maine Foods Inc. jumped $1.47, or 5.8 percent, to $26.68.

Funeral provider Stewart Enterprises Inc. was down 7 cents, or 1.3 percent, at $5.50.