Natural Gas Futures Soften as Storage Inventories Rise

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) today reported the U.S. natural gas stocks increased by 41 billion cubic feet last week, compared with an expected build of between 47 billion and 51 billion cubic feet anticipated by analysts. Natural gas futures prices were down about 1% in advance of the EIA’s report, at around $3.71 per million BTUs, and slipped further to around $3.65 immediately following the EIA report.

The EIA reported that U.S. working stocks of natural gas totaled nearly 2.79 trillion cubic feet, about 46 billion cubic feet lower than the five-year average of 2.83 trillion cubic feet. Working gas in storage totaled 3.19 trillion cubic feet for the same period a year ago. Natural gas inventories remain roughly in the middle of the five-year range.

The United States is expected to see temperatures return to normal or even below-normal temperatures after a week of scorching heat. In the same week last year, natural gas inventories rose by 26 billion cubic feet and the five-year average build for the week is 53 billion cubic feet.

Here’s how stocks of the largest U.S. natural gas producers are reacting to today’s report:

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), the country’s largest producer of natural gas, is down 0.1% to $94.85, in a 52-week range of $84.70 to $95.49.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) is down 0.2%, at $22.17 in a 52-week range of $16.23 to $22.97.

EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) is up 1.3%, at $145.98 in a 52-week range of $95.28 to $150.05.

The U.S. Natural Gas Fund (NYSEMKT: UNG) is down 1.4%, at $19.37 in a 52-week range of $17.38 to $24.09. The Market Vectors Oil Services ETF (NYSEMKT: OIH) is down 0.6%, at $45.30 in a 52-week range of $36.24 to $46.78. The first fund tracks spot prices; the second includes major drillers and services companies.

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