The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) today reported the U.S. natural gas stocks declined by 157 billion cubic feet last week, less than the drop of 160 billion to 164 billion cubic feet anticipated by analysts. Natural gas futures prices were down about 1% in advance of the EIA’s report, at around $3.27 per million BTUs, and dropped further to around $3.19 immediately following the EIA report.
The EIA reported that U.S. working stocks of natural gas totaled 2.52 trillion cubic feet, about 348 billion cubic feet higher than the five-year average of 2.18 trillion cubic feet. Working gas in storage totaled 2.8 trillion cubic feet for the same period a year ago.
Weather forecasts for the next 10 days call for colder temperatures in the West with seasonal temperatures returning in the eastern part of the U.S. Winter is winding down in the United States, with natural gas stocks at high levels and production continuing at near-peak levels. The outlook for stronger pricing for natural gas is getting dimmer by the day.
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 0.5%, at $88.22 in a 52-week range of $77.13 to $93.67.
Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) is down 0.8%, at $20.40 in a 52-week range of $13.32 to $26.09.
EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) is up 1.3%, at $135.27, after posting a new 52-week high of $138.25 earlier today. The prior 52-week range is $82.48 to $134.69.
The U.S. Natural Gas Fund (NYSEMKT: UNG) is down 3%, at $17.96 in a 52-week range of $14.25 to $23.38. The Market Vectors Oil Services ETF (NYSEMKT: OIH) is up 1.4%, at $44.23 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.