Which Stocks are Gaining with Oil's Rise?

Crude oil reached a six-month high on Wednesday, lifted by a significant drop in oil inventories ahead of the summer driving. US sweet crude for July delivery closed yesterday at $62.26 per barrel; the first time the commodity closes above this level since November 10, 2008.

As crude prices edge higher helped by a weakening dollar, which fell to its lowest level since early January on Tuesday boosting demand for dollar-denominated commodities, the S&P 500 Energy sector has nearly erased most of its losses for the year, trading down 0.66% YTD as of yesterday's close.

However, the trade is reversing today, as the dollar gains some strength, and crude prices pull back.

As of yesterday's close, crude oil prices were up 83.23% since their lowest close this year of $33.98 on February 12. Will upward momentum on crude futures continue as hopes of a healing economy emerge? If so, a look at the S&P 500 energy group might provide some guidance to investors seeking to place bets on crude prices moving higher.

Three out five subgroups within the the S&P 500 Energy sector have posted gains greater than 14% year-to-date. Leading the gains, the S&P 500 Oil & Gas drilling group has jumped 31% in 2009, followed by the Gas & Equipment and Gas Exploration groups with gains of 30%, and 14%, respectively.

The following table provides a sample of some of the biggest-percent-gainers YTD from these leading subgroups in the S&P 500 Energy sector.

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At the pump, the AAA current national price for regular gas is $2.362 per gallon, down about 38% from a year ago.

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