U.S. and European debt concerns have triggered some dismal market performances - but there is still one energy sector that's moving up.
And that's coal.
The Dow Jones U.S. Coal Index, which tracks 69 energy and coal-related companies, has climbed 60% in the past year and 13% in the past month.
So what's the key motivating factor moving the world's best coal stocks higher?
Simply put, it's a combination of shrinking supplies and rising demand.
Indeed, Coal prices are up more than 20% in the past year and many experts say increasing consumption from emerging economies like China - the world's biggest coal consumer - and India will push prices even higher.
China's rapid growth has been the main driver behind an average 3.8% annual increase in global coal demand since 2000. In fact, the country accounted for about half of the world's coal consumption in 2009. And a China Energy Research Institute report recently estimated that country's economic growth, urbanization, and rising middle class would increase coal demand by 700 million tons to 1 billion tons by 2020.
India's coal imports are expected to double to 100 million tons by 2012. And Japan also will boost demand attempts to rebound from the tragic March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Growing demand isn't the only reason to believe prices will soar, either. Because as worldwide demand surges, global coal supplies are rapidly falling.