A sustained rally in oil prices would not only prop up energy companies, but could also lift other markets in need of a boost, one expert said Wednesday.
West Texas Intermediate crude neared $50 per barrel on Wednesday before going negative and ending the day down 1.4 percent, below $48. If the commodity can break through $51 per barrel, positive effects on energy companies may spread to broader markets, said Matt Maley, managing director and equity strategist at Miller Tabak.
"These oil companies, especially the smaller ones, are so dependent on higher oil prices. They'll have a tougher time even staying in business," Maley said on CNBC's "Power Lunch."
The effects could immediately be seen in the high-yield debt market, which should get "relief" if oil companies can better meet their obligations. Financial woes plagued energy companies as WTI fell more than 40 percent in the last year.
Despite the reversal on Wednesday, the crude oil climb seems to have some legs, added Pavel Molchanov, senior vice president and equity research analyst at Raymond James. He noted that oil previously looked "oversold" and some of the bounce could be attributed to short covering.
While investors should expect choppiness, the rally could be "for real," Molchanov said.