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Natural Gas Adds to 9% Weekly Loss Despite Large US Supply Drawdown

January 22, 2021 at 17:22 by Andrew Moran

Natural gas futures fell below $2.45 to finish the holiday-shortened trading week, despite a larger-than-expected decline in US inventories. Natural gas prices have cratered this week amid warmer weather trends forming across North America and Europe, defying expectations for a Polar Vortex cold front. Is this the end of the bull market for natural gas prices?

March natural gas futures tumbled $0.049, or 1.96%, to $2.448 per million British thermal units (btu) at 16:05 GMT on Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The energy commodity is poised to record a weekly plunge of 9.5%.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), domestic supplies of natural gas decreased by 187 billion cubic feet for the week ending January 15. This is greater than the median estimate of 174 billion cubic feet. In total, US stockpiles stand at 3.009 trillion cubic feet, up 36 billion cubic feet from the same time a year ago. They are also 198 billion cubic feet above the five-year average.

The weekly reading comes shortly after the EIA published its January 2020 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO). The monthly forecast anticipates that natural gas output will slump 2% to an average just short of 96 billion cubic feet per day in 2021. But the US government predicts that natural gas production will return to growth in 2022, climbing by 2%.

But both bullish reports do not appear to be triggering a rally in natural gas prices, mainly because of warmer weather. The latest models suggest that above-average seasonal temperatures will occur for the remainder of January.

NatGasWeather recently wrote regarding the weather outlook for January 21 to January 27:

Cool to cold conditions will spread across the northern U.S. the next few days with highs of 20s to lower 40s for stronger national demand. The West will be cool and unsettled with areas of rain and snow and highs of 20s to 50s. The central and southern U.S. will be mild to warm with highs of 40s to 70s for light demand. After a brief break Monday across the Midwest and East, another chilly cold shot will arrive mid-next week with lows of 0s to 30s for a return to strong national demand. Overall, low demand today, then increasing to high by Saturday.

In other energy commodities, February West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures slumped $0.65, or 1.22%, to $52.48 per barrel. March Brent crude futures dropped $0.58, or 1.03%, to $55.52 a barrel. March gasoline futures dipped $0.0062, or 0.4%, to $1.5417 a gallon. March heating oil futures declined $0.0178, or 1.11%, to $1.5846 per gallon.

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