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Natural Gas Rallies on Lower-Than-Expected Jump in US Inventories

August 8, 2019 at 15:10 by Andrew Moran

Natural gas futures are rallying on Thursday after the US government reported a lower-than-expected increase in domestic stockpiles. Natural gas has not had much to celebrate in recent months as the energy commodity has crashed 18% since May. But prices could receive a slight boost over the next several trading sessions as a heatwave is crippling many parts of the country, raising demand levels.

September natural gas futures rose $0.05, or 2.33%, to $2.13 per million British thermal units (btu) at 14:52 GMT on Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Natural gas is on track for a weekly decline of at least 1%, expanding its negative year-to-date performance to 25.5%.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), domestic inventories of natural gas climbed 55 billion cubic feet for the week ending August 2, which is lower than the market forecast of 59 billion cubic feet. In total, stockpiles stand at 2.689 trillion cubic feet, up 343 billion cubic feet from the same time a year ago. But they are 111 billion cubic feet below the five-year average.

Weather outlooks for the next 15 days suggest higher-than-normal temperatures, particularly in the northeast, west, and Texas regions. The same forecasts do show lower-than-normal temperatures in the southeast and central-east. So, with heat impacting households across the country and inevitably raising demand to cool their homes, the short-term could ease storage levels.

That said, supply is still expanding with the latest reports suggesting production is outpacing expectations so far this month.

Investors remain bearish on natural gas. According to the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), hedge funds and money managers once again increased their net short positions in the week ending August 2.

In other energy commodities, September West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures rebounded $1.47, or 2.90%, to $52.57 per barrel. October Brent crude futures tacked on $1.18, or 2.1%, to $57.41 a barrel. September gasoline futures jumped $0.025, or 1.55%, to $1.64 per gallon. September heating oil futures edged up $0.02, or 1.04%, to $1.77 a gallon.

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