Natural Gas Inventory Falls, Price Rises

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) today reported the U.S. natural gas stocks declined by 135 billion cubic feet last week, above an average expected drop of around 127 billion cubic feet. Natural gas futures prices were about 2% higher in advance of the EIA’s report at around $3.26 per million BTUs, and rose to $3.29 immediately following the EIA report.

The EIA reported that U.S. working stocks of natural gas totaled 3.52 trillion cubic feet, about 389 billion cubic feet higher than the five-year average of 3.13 trillion cubic feet. Working gas in storage totaled 3.49 trillion cubic feet for the same period a year ago.

Storage levels remain slightly above the top of the five-year range even though the draw on stocks is higher than last week’s draw of 72 billion cubic feet. Gas prices remain about 17% from recent highs around $3.93 per thousand 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 up about 0.2% at $88.74 in a 52-week range of $77.13 to $93.67.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) is up about 3.5% at $17.36 in a 52-week range of $13.32 to $26.09.

EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) is up about 1.2% at $125.63, a new 52-week high, from a current 52-week range of $82.48 to $125.49.

The US Natural Gas Fund (NYSEMKT: UNG) is up 2.8% at $18.45 in a 52-week range of $14.25 to $26.64. The Market Vectors Oil Services ETF (NYSEMKT: OIH) is up about 1.6% at $40.48 in a 52-week range of $32.54 to $45.14. The first fund tracks spot prices; the second includes major drillers and services companies.

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