Natural Gas Price Rises on Higher Demand Last Week

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Thursday morning that U.S. natural gas stocks decreased by 19 billion cubic feet for the week ending April 6. The winter heating season ended March 30 and we should begin seeing storage injections (increases) until the end of September.

Analysts were expecting a storage withdrawal of around 11 billion cubic feet. The five-year average for the week is an injection of 10 billion cubic feet, and last year’s storage increase for the week totaled 10 billion cubic feet. Natural gas inventories fell by 29 billion cubic feet in the week ending March 30.

Natural gas futures for May delivery traded down about 0.3% in advance of the EIA’s report, at around $2.67 per million BTUs, and moved to around $2.69 shortly afterward.

The forecast for overall natural gas demand next week moves down into the “moderate” range as warm weather is expected to linger over the northern and eastern states until a strong system moves into the region late Sunday or early Monday. The southern states are expected to stay warm, and the west can look forward to a mix of cool, then warmer, temperatures.

Total U.S. stockpiles fell week over week to 35.2% below last year’s level and are now 21.9% below the five-year average.

The EIA reported that U.S. working stocks of natural gas totaled about 1.335 trillion cubic feet at the end of last week, around 375 billion below the five-year average of 1.710 trillion cubic feet and 725 billion below last year’s total for the same period. Working gas in storage totaled 2.060 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 this latest report:

  • Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), the country’s largest producer of natural gas, traded up about 0.1% to $77.53, in a 52-week range of $72.16 to $89.30.
  • Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) traded down about 1.1%, at $3.16 in a 52-week range of $2.53 to $6.18.
  • EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) traded down about 0.2% to $109.21. The 52-week range is $81.99 to $119.00.

In addition, the United States Natural Gas ETF (NYSEAMERICAN: UNG) traded up about 0.7%, at $222.17 in a 52-week range of $20.40 to $31.72.