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Natural Gas Sheds 4% as US Supplies Post Smaller-Than-Expected Decline

November 29, 2018 at 17:32 by Andrew Moran

Natural gas futures tumbled as much as 4% on Thursday after the US government reported a smaller-than-expected decline in domestic inventories. While natural gas prices are extending their losses, the energy commodity is still up nearly 50% so far this year.

January natural gas futures shed $0.16, or 3.38%, to $4.54 per million British thermal units (btu) at 16:08 GMT on Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Despite the steep losses, natural gas is still poised for a weekly gain of about 1.5%.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), domestic natural gas supplies decreased by 59 billion cubic feet for the week ending November 23, which is below the market forecast of 73 billion cubic feet. In total, US inventories stand at 3.054 trillion cubic feet, down 644 billion cubic feet from the same time a year ago. They are also 720 billion below the five-year average.

Natural gas has been the best performing commodity in 2018. The latest surge was buoyed by wintry weather engulfing many parts of the US. In recent weeks, several weather forecasts have called for a blast of frigid temperatures to cover much of the country, which would require more heating for households.

This is the same trend that occurred last year. When subzero temperatures enraptured the US, natural gas stockpiles fell amid increased demand.

But some analysts are already sounding the alarm for natural gas’s collapse heading in 2019. They fear two developments: output levels would spike to meet demand and market liquidity would slide like what is occurring in global crude oil markets.

In other energy commodities, January West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures jumped $1.46, or 2.9%, to $51.75 a barrel. January Brent crude futures tacked on $1.10, or 1.89%, to $59.87 per barrel. January gasoline futures edged up $0.05, or 3.8%, to $1.43 per gallon. January heating oil futures added $0.008, or 0.41%, to $1.84 a gallon.

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