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Energy companies run lean with oil at $50 a barrel

U.S. energy companies spent $7.4 billion on capital projects over the 12-month period ended March 31, on a market-cap-weighted basis, down about 44% from the same period in 2016. Exxon Mobil, the group's largest constituent, cut its capital spending by $9.8 billion, while Chevron cut spending by $11.6 billion over the 12-month period.

The Baker Hughes weekly oil rig count data showed that 720 oil rigs were online as of last Friday May 19, up from 529 at the beginning of the year. The count hit its post-crisis low last May at 327 rigs. U.S. oil shale production has been on an upward trajectory since the end of 2015, reaching 5.5 million barrels per day at the end of April.

A barrel of West Texas Intermediate cost $50.73 at the close of business Monday, building on recent gains following a slump in prices that began in mid-April and into early May.