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The burning question for energy stocks

On a day in which crude oil fell to fresh lows, here's what S&P Global portfolio manager Erin Gibbs will be watching for.

1. Oil's slip

The oil decline continues. Amid fresh supply worries, crude oil futures fell to $42.05 per barrel on Wednesday, their lowest level since August of 2016. That decline sent the popular XLE energy sector ETF to its lowest level in more than a year.

"Despite promises of lowering production and inventory, we haven't seen those come to fruition," Gibbs pointed out Wednesday on CNBC's "Trading Nation." "I'm watching if the energy sector can remain stable despite oil dropping below 45 dollars."

The extent to which energy stocks can maintain their footing amidst a continued decline in oil prices is a key question going forward, in Gibbs' view.

2. Weekly jobless claims

With the economy at what many are calling full employment, Gibbs will closely watch the weekly jobless claims number that is set to be released on Thursday morning.

"We've seen upward claims revisions for the last three weeks," Gibbs observed. "I'll be looking to see if jobless claims are revised up yet again, and if there is continued upward trend in the four-week moving average."

3. Leading Indicators

The Leading Indicator index released by the Conference Board could show signs of increasing economic bloom.

"The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index increased both in April and March. Another increase for May might indicate that US GDP growth could recover for Q2 after a weak Q1," Gibbs said.

Recently, housing data and workweek hours have been "weak spots," she added.

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Brian Sullivan is co-anchor of CNBC's "Power Lunch" (M-F,1PM-3PM ET), one of the network's longest running programs, as well as the host of the daily investing program "Trading Nation." He is also a frequent guest on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and other NBC properties.

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