U.S. refiners are the clear winners in the recent market rally, leading the gains in the energy sector.
Refiners have quadrupled the returns of the broader stock market this year. While the S&P 500 index has gained 5 percent in 2013, the S&P Refining Index has skyrocketed over 20 percent. Some U.S. refiners have fared even better. Shares of Valero are up over 30 percent so far this year, while Hess and Marathon have climbed about 25 percent.
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Refiners around the country are capitalizing on the incredible growth in unconventional resources such as shale, oil sands and natural gas, which has led to a "refining renaissance," says Oppenheimer energy analyst Fadel Gheit. The U.S. oil and gas production boom has made it far less expensive for refiners to take oil and process it into gasoline, diesel and other refined fuels here than in other parts of the world.