Natural Gas Inventory Rises, So Does Price

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) today reported the U.S. natural gas stocks increased by 65 billion cubic feet last week, compared with an expected build of 69 billion cubic feet anticipated by analysts. Natural gas futures prices were trading up by about 0.1% in advance of the EIA’s report, at around $3.35 per million BTUs, and jumped to near $3.40 immediately following the EIA report.

The EIA reported that U.S. working stocks of natural gas totaled 3 trillion cubic feet, about 43 billion cubic feet higher than the five-year average of 2.96 trillion cubic feet. Working gas in storage totaled 3.26 trillion cubic feet for the same period a year ago. Natural gas inventories remain roughly in the middle of the five-year range. The five-year average increase for the period is 42 billion cubic feet.

Cooler weather across a good portion of the United States has cut demand for cooling since natural gas prices hit a nearly two-year high on May 1 of this year. Natural gas prices could come under more pressure very quickly now as the hottest part of the summer is behind us. The spot price jump likely is due to the substantial drop compared with last week’s build of 96 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 about 0.7%, at $88.35 in a 52-week range of $84.70 to $95.49.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) is down 0.6%, at $24.76 in a 52-week range of $16.23 to $25.64.

EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) is down 0.5%, at $155.88 in a 52-week range of $105.45 to $161.47.

The U.S. Natural Gas Fund (NYSEMKT: UNG) is up 1.2%, at $17.91 in a 52-week range of $16.59 to $24.09. The Market Vectors Oil Services ETF (NYSEMKT: OIH) is down 0.5%, at $45.22 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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