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"If insider selling is any guide, the stock-market rally for energy companies may be waning.

Sales of shares by officers and directors at oil refiners climbed to a record in July, according to a scoring system used by the Leuthold Group since 1999. Among a broader group of 142 energy producers, insider selling peaked in May, according to Leuthold, a research and investment firm that counts two-thirds of the 100 largest US money managers as clients.

Executives at Valero Energy Corp, the largest US refiner, and XTO Energy Inc, an oil and natural-gas producer, were among those selling stock.

"The insiders do tend to have pretty good insight in terms of what they're doing with their own money,' said Andy Engel, who helps oversee $2.5bn as co-manager of the Leuthold Core Investment Fund. “The energy composite area is one area where the insiders seem to have been fairly accurate."

The Minneapolis-based firm has about 1% of its holdings in energy stocks, down from 13% two years ago."

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