Energy Economy

Natural Gas Price Ticks Up after Storage Report

Paul Ausick

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Thursday morning that U.S. natural gas stocks increased by 63 billion cubic feet for the week ending October 23. Analysts were expecting a storage injection (increase) of around 68 billion cubic feet. The five-year average for the week is an increase of around 73 billion cubic feet, and last year’s addition for the week totaled 88 billion cubic feet.

Natural gas futures for December delivery traded up about 2.2% in advance of the EIA’s report, at around $2.35 per million BTUs, and rose about a penny after the data release to trade at $2.36, up six cents over Wednesday’s closing price. Last Thursday, natural gas closed at $2.57 per million BTUs, and over the past five trading days natural gas futures peaked at around $2.58 on Monday. A new 52-week low of $2.26 was posted on Tuesday. The 52-week high for natural gas futures is $4.00. One year ago the price for a million BTUs was around $3.99.

Forecasts calling for milder fall weather sent natural gas prices plummeting earlier this week. Temperatures are expected to be cooler in the Northern Plains and Midwest for the next few days, but along the more heavily populated East Coast temperatures are expected to be warmer than normal for this time of year.

Stockpiles are nearly 12% above their levels of a year ago and about 4.1% above the five-year average.

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The EIA reported that U.S. working stocks of natural gas totaled about 3.877 trillion cubic feet, around 153 billion cubic feet above the five-year average of 3.724 trillion cubic feet and 409 billion cubic feet above last year’s total for the same period. Working gas in storage totaled 3.468 trillion cubic feet for the same period a year ago.

Here is how share prices of the largest U.S. natural gas producers reacted to this latest report:

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), the country’s largest producer of natural gas, traded up about 0.5%, at $82.67 in a 52-week range of $66.55 to $97.20.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) traded up about 2.2% to $7.12. The stock’s 52-week range is $6.01 to $24.43.

EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) traded up about 0.3% to $85.06. The 52-week range is $68.15 to $103.04.

In addition, the United States Natural Gas ETF (NYSEMKT: UNG) traded up about 2.5%, at $9.91 in a 52-week range of $9.54 to $23.73.

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