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Liam Denning

Thank FERC It's Friday? Not for MLPs

A regulatory warning shot deepens existential questions for pipelines.
A worker walks through the pipe yard for TransCanada's Houston Lateral Project in Mont Belvieu, Texas, about 30 miles east of Houston on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.

A worker walks through the pipe yard for TransCanada's Houston Lateral Project in Mont Belvieu, Texas, about 30 miles east of Houston on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.

Photographer: Scott Dalton/Bloomberg via Getty Images

"What? The FERC?!" is probably a cry that went up in unison across MLP-land on Thursday.

A somewhat nuanced proposed ruling from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission touched off a rout in master limited partnerships; at one point, the Alerian MLP Index was off by almost 10 percent (it closed down 4.6 percent). This wiped out the last vestiges of the mini-rally that got going in December, taking the index back into the sub-250 territory last visited in the panic of early 2016: