Alpha Natural Resources Inc., the third-largest U.S. coal producer, led other companies higher on signs of a growing global economy that may lift demand for the steelmaking ingredient and power-plant fuel.
Alpha increased $2.53, or 5 percent, to $53.22 at 11:34 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Arch Coal Inc., the second-biggest U.S. coal company, gained $1.13, or 3.7 percent, to $31.35. Patriot Coal Corp., the fourth-largest eastern U.S. coal producer, rose 52 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $17.32.
The increase came after Retail Metrics Inc. reported that November retail comparable-store sales rose 5.3 percent, compared to a 3.5 percent estimate. Separately, a National Association of Realtors report showed the index of pending home resales jumped a record 10 percent in October after dropping 1.8 percent in September.
“You’re getting it on all fronts,” said Jeremy Sussman, an analyst at Brean Murray Carret & Co. in New York. “Investors are getting excited about U.S. economic data.”
Sussman said investors are speculating that Alpha, with metallurgical or steelmaking coal reserves, will benefit from an improving global markets. Coal is a measure of the economy as it is used to generate electricity and to make steel.
Peabody Energy Corp., the largest U.S. coal producer, climbed $1.88, or 3.1 percent, to $62.76. Consol Energy Inc., a coal and natural gas company, added 66 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $44.35. Massey Energy Co., the largest Central Appalachia coal producer, gained 42 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $50.02.
The coal companies are “just a function of the higher-beta,” said Brian Gamble, an analyst at Simmons & Co. International Ltd.
Beta is a measurement of volatility. High-beta stocks are more volatile.