Natural Gas Futures React to Lower-Than-Expected Build

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) today reported the U.S. natural gas stocks increased by 58 billion cubic feet last week, compared with an expected build of around 64 billion cubic feet anticipated by analysts. Natural gas futures prices were up about 1.6% in advance of the EIA’s report, at around $3.69 per million BTUs, and jumped to around $3.78 immediately following the EIA report.

The EIA reported that U.S. working stocks of natural gas totaled nearly 2.74 trillion cubic feet, about 34 billion cubic feet lower than the five-year average of 2.78 trillion cubic feet. Working gas in storage totaled 3.16 trillion cubic feet for the same period a year ago. Natural gas inventories remain roughly in the middle of the five-year range.

Natural gas prices are not expected to get any help from the weather for the coming week. Temperatures are forecast to run below normal in the Northeast and to drop back into the normal range in the Midwest. In the same week last year, natural gas inventories rose by 29 billion cubic feet, and the five-year average build for the week is 70 billion cubic feet.

Here is 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 1.1%, at $94.46 in a 52-week range of $83.50 to $93.49. The high was set today.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) is up 2.1%, at $22.19 in a 52-week range of $16.23 to $22.97.

EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) is up 1.1%, at $147.39 in a 52-week range of $94.21 to $147.52. The high was also posted today.

The U.S. Natural Gas Fund (NYSEMKT: UNG) is up 4.2%, at $20.03 in a 52-week range of $17.38 to $24.09. The Market Vectors Oil Services ETF (NYSEMKT: OIH) is up 1%, at $45.52 in a 52-week range of $36.24 to $45.80. The first fund tracks spot prices; the second includes major drillers and services companies.

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