Natural Gas Price Sinks Ahead of Storage Data

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Thursday morning that U.S. natural gas stocks decreased by 69 billion cubic feet for the week ending December 8. Analysts were expecting a storage withdrawal of between 57 billion and 69 billion cubic feet. The five-year average for the week is a withdrawal of 78 billion cubic feet, and last year’s storage withdrawal for the week totaled 147 billion cubic feet. Natural gas inventories rose by 2 billion cubic feet in the week ending December 1.

Natural gas futures for January delivery traded down about 0.4% in advance of the EIA’s report, at around $2.69 per million BTUs and traded up about two cents shortly after the report was released.

Prices are falling as weather forecasts indicate colder temperatures over the eastern half of the country through the weekend with warming to follow. The western states are expected to remain mild. Demand will be high through the weekend before dropping into the moderate range.

Total U.S. stockpiles fell week over week to 5.3% below last year’s level and are now 0.7% below the five-year average.

The EIA reported that U.S. working stocks of natural gas totaled about 3.626 trillion cubic feet, around 27 billion cubic feet below the five-year average of 3.653 trillion cubic feet and 201 billion cubic feet below last year’s total for the same period. Working gas in storage totaled 3.827 trillion cubic feet for the same period a year ago.

Here’s how share prices of the largest U.S. natural gas producers reacted to today’s report:

  • Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), the country’s largest producer of natural gas, traded down less than 0.1%, at $83.08 in a 52-week range of $76.05 to $91.67.
  • Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) traded up about 1.5%, at $3.78 in a 52-week range of $3.41 to $7.65.
  • EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) traded up about 0.4% to $100.32. The 52-week range is $81.99 to $107.95.

In addition, the United States Natural Gas ETF (NYSEARCA: UNG) traded down about 0.7%, at $5.32 in a 52-week range of $5.28 to $9.74. The low was posted this morning.