US SMALL/MIDCAPS-Energy shares slump alongside oil drop

NEW YORK, June 8 Fri Jun 8, 2012 12:02pm EDT

NEW YORK, June 8 (Reuters) - Energy shares in the mid- and small-cap space dropped on Friday, tracking a decline in the price of crude oil as concerns resurfaced about the banking crisis in Spain.

Broader indexes were modestly higher thanks to strength in health-care shares, a group considered a defensive play, but mid-cap shares were on track for a sixth straight weekly decline.

Following its downgrade by ratings agency Fitch on Thursday, Spain is expected to request European aid for its banks at the weekend becoming the fourth and biggest country to seek help since the euro zone debt crisis began, EU and German sources said.

The news hit energy shares, which are closely tied to the pace of economic growth. Crude oil fell 2 percent and is also on track for a sixth straight weekly decline.

"This is the same theme that we've been seeing: a fear of European contagion spreading, which could thwart global demand in developed countries," said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service in Wall, New Jersey.

Mid-cap energy shares fell 1.6 percent while the small-cap group lost 1.5 percent. Among the most active names, Quicksilver Resources lost 7 percent to $3.56 while Forest Oil sank 4.6 percent to $7.84 and SM Energy Co fell 4 percent to $48.97.

The S&P MidCap 400 index gained 0.3 percent while the S&P SmallCap 600 index climbed 0.5 percent. The benchmark S&P 500 rose 0.2 percent.

Strength came from health-care shares, which were the percentage leaders on both the mid-cap and small-cap spaces. Mid-cap shares gained 0.6 percent while small-caps were up 1.3 percent.

Molina Healthcare Inc and Centene Corp both soared after winning contracts to continue as Medicaid plan providers in the state of Ohio. Molina gained 27 percent to $22.55 and Centene was up 9.9 percent to $36.08.

In company news, Universal Health Realty Income Trust rose 1.8 percent to $39.76 a day after lifting its dividend.

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