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Natural Gas Prices Fall 1% on Large Jump in Domestic Inventories

September 6, 2018 at 19:01 by Andrew Moran

Natural gas futures tumbled as much as 1% on Thursday after the US government reported a larger-than-expected increase in domestic supplies. Natural gas prices previously made gains on reports that the hot temperatures are forecast to cool down by the middle of September in the US and Europe.

October natural gas futures slipped $0.024, or 0.86%, to $2.771 per million British thermal units (btu) at 18:32 GMT on Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Natural gas prices had tumbled for four of the last five trading sessions, and they have slid more than 6% over the past month. Year-to-date, natural gas is down just 1%.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), domestic inventories climbed by 63 billion cubic feet for the week ending August 31, which is more than the market projections of 60 billion cubic feet. In total, stockpiles stand at 2.568 trillion cubic feet, which is down 643 billion cubic feet from the same time a year ago. They are also 590 billion below the five-year average.

Natural gas may pick up momentum over the coming weeks as the hot temperatures begin to cool down. NatGasWeather reported on Wednesday that overnight models predicted cooler weather in the second half of September, adding that investors will wait a bit longer for more information.

There had been notable weather model differences where the European was notably stronger/hotter with the upper ridge than the rest of the datasets. However, the European backed off yesterday afternoon on the strength of the hot ridge and held the cooler trend overnight, falling better in line with the rest of the data in a neutral to bearish pattern going into the second half of the month.

With summer heat still expected to wane as we get past mid-September, the markets will now only need to wait a little longer before record production has the opportunity to prove it will finally meaningfully reduce deficits.

Last week, the natural gas market was bullish on a Farmers’ Almanac 2018–2019 forecast that predicted a colder-than-normal season. The coldest temperatures are expected to occur in mid-February, with winter extending to the end of March. The colder it is, the more natural gas will be used to warm up homes.

In other energy commodities, October West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures shed $0.82, or 1.19%, to $67.90 per barrel. November Brent crude futures dipped $0.62, or 0.8%, to $76.64 a barrel. October gasoline futures dropped $0.01, or 0.52%, to $1.955 per gallon. October heating oil futures declined $0.021, or 0.98%, to $2.212 a gallon.

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