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(Reuters) - Mitt Romney's support of the coal industry during his debate with President Obama sent coal company stocks higher on Thursday, analysts said.
"It's amazing what 15 words about coal in a presidential debate can do for the stocks," said Michael Dudas of Sterne Agee.
"These stocks have been volatile, but you can't discount what a man running for president said about coal. Call it the Romney rally."
During Wednesday's debate with Obama, Republican candidate Romney brought up coal during a discussion of energy policies.
"By the way, I like coal. I'm going to make sure we can continue to burn clean coal," said the former head of the private equity firm, Bain Capital.
"People in the coal industry feel like it's getting crushed by your policies," he told Obama.
In morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Arch Coal ACI.N rose 6.7 percent to $6.62, Alpha Natural Resources ANR.N shares were up 5.2 percent at $6.63, Consol Energy (CNX.N) was 4.9 percent higher at $31.18, Peabody Energy (BTU.N) gained 4.2 percent to $22.74 and Walter Energy WLT.N was up 4.6 percent at $32.80.
The Dow Jones coal index .DJUSCL was 5.05 percent higher.
Wall Street analysts agreed that in the absence of any macro-economic news, or industry-specific developments, Romney's support of coal was driving the shares up.
"There is investor perception that Romney would be a better advocate for coal," said Lucas Pipes, of Brean Murray Carret & Co.
And Kuni Chen, of CRT Capital Group, said: "There is a little positive sentiment after the debate, some speculation that maybe Romney can win."
Reporting By Steve James; Editing by David Gregorio