Energy Business

Cool Weather Slims Natural Gas Inventory

Blue flames of a gas stove
Source: thinkstock
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) today reported the U.S. natural gas stocks increased by 31 billion cubic feet last week, slightly less than a build of between 33 and 37 billion cubic feet anticipated by analysts. Natural gas futures prices were up about 2.2% in advance of the EIA’s report, at around $4.20 per million BTUs, but rose to around $4.32 immediately following the EIA report.

The EIA reported that U.S. working stocks of natural gas totaled 1.7 trillion cubic feet, about 74 billion cubic feet lower than the five-year average of 1.77 trillion cubic feet. Working gas in storage totaled 2.5 trillion cubic feet for the same period a year ago.

Chilly late-winter weather continues to drive demand for natural gas, even though stocks rose this past week. More cold weather is forecast for the coming week, but natural gas prices may begin to moderate now that utilities are switching back to lower-priced coal. May natural gas futures posted a high of $4.29 per million BTUs on Monday, the highest finish for natural gas in 20 months.

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 fractionally to $86.05, in a 52-week range of $77.13 to $93.67.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) is up about 1.1%, at $18.67 in a 52-week range of $13.32 to $22.97.

EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) is down 1.2%, at $113.46 in a 52-week range of $82.48 to $138.20.

The U.S. Natural Gas Fund (NYSEMKT: UNG) is up 2.9% at $23.53 in a 52-week range of $14.25 to $23.58. The Market Vectors Oil Services ETF (NYSEMKT: OIH) is up about 0.9% at $40.05 in a 52-week range of $32.54 to $45.12. The first fund tracks spot prices; the second includes major drillers and services companies.

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