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Natural Gas Extends Correction Amid Bigger-Than-Expected Supply Build

November 19, 2020 at 17:55 by Andrew Moran

Natural gas futures are extending their correction on Thursday after the US government reported a larger-than-expected increase in domestic inventories. Natural gas prices have cratered double digits over the last week, sending them to below $3 for the first time in more than a week. With warm temperatures across North America in November, could natural gas endure a downward trend heading into 2021?

January natural gas futures tumbled $0.101, or 3.56%, to $2.737 per million British thermal units (btu) at 16:42 GMT on Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Natural gas is poised for a steep weekly loss of more than 12%, paring its year-to-date rally to below 25%.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), domestic stockpiles of natural gas increased by 31 billion cubic feet in the week ending November 13. The market had penciled in a gain of 22 billion cubic feet. In total, inventories stand at 3.958 trillion cubic feet, up 293 billion cubic feet from the same time a year ago. They are also 231 billion cubic feet above the five-year average.

Despite forecasts suggesting that much of North America would be engulfed in freezing temperatures in November, it has been a mild month so far. The latest weather models are predicting warmer temperatures in many states for the rest of November.

Here is a statement from NatGasWeather:

Chilly conditions continue across the Midwest and Northeast with lows of 10s to 30s for moderately strong national demand. Demand would be stronger if not for the southern U.S. quite nice with highs of 60s to 80s. Weather systems with heavy rain, snow, and wind will crash into the West Coast with mild to cool highs of 30s to 50s. After the Northeast system exits today, much of the U.S. will become warmer than normal Thursday – Sunday with highs of 40s to 60s North, and 60s to 80s South for light national demand. Overall, moderate demand through Wednesday, then low.”

This is bad news for the natural gas market since it would limit demand for power-generation fuel. Natural gas had been surging over the last couple of months on the anticipation of La Nina, a climate pattern of cold temperatures. The leading organizations had predicted that it would send the US and Canada into a deep freeze before officially welcoming the winter season. This has yet to materialize, indicating that natural gas could maintain its correction heading into the new year.

In other energy commodities, December West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures shed $0.32, or 0.76%, to $41.69 per barrel. January Brent crude futures slumped $0.36, or 0.81%, to $43.98 a barrel. December gasoline futures slipped $0.0102, or 0.88%, to $1.1527 per gallon. December heating oil futures were flat at $1.2681 a gallon.

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