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Natural Gas Shrugs Off Weekly Supply Build, Hovers Around Two-Year High

October 22, 2020 at 17:39 by Andrew Moran

Natural gas futures shrugged off the bearish US government inventory report. Natural gas prices had traded slightly lower in the initial release of the supply data, but they headed back in the green to continue trading at their best levels in two years, breaking above $3. How much higher can natural gas prices go in the coming weeks?

November natural gas futures rose $0.01, or 0.33%, to $3.033 per million British thermal units (btu) at 17:26 GMT on Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The energy commodity slipped below $3 following storage numbers, but then they advanced as high as $3.06. Natural gas is on track for a weekly boost of about 9%, bringing its year-to-date rally to nearly 40%.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), domestic inventories increased by 49 billion cubic feet for the week ending October 16. The market had penciled in a jump of 51 billion cubic feet. In total, US supplies stand at 3.926 trillion cubic feet, up 345 billion cubic feet from the same time a year ago. They are also 327 billion cubic feet above the five-year average.

Natural gas prices have been rallying on a wide range of bullish factors, including cooler weather outlooks heading into November and strengthening liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports.

Following natural gas’ drop to kick off the trading week, prices surged on news that the US Coast Goard (USCG) would permit vessels to transit the Calcaseiu Ship Channel. This is a positive development since demand has been ballooning worldwide as more foreign markets adopt the bridge fuel.

Although long-term weather forecasts have been mixed for the winter season, short-term weather models highlight milder-than-normal temperatures in most of the US. This would be great news for the energy commodity since it would raise energy demand.

On the supply-demand front, production levels are down about one billion cubic feet per day, tightening supplies. Market observers anticipate that the decline in output would ease storage surpluses over the next few weeks.

In other energy commodities, December West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures added $0.66, or 1.65%, to $40.69 per barrel. December Brent crude futures picked up $0.78, or 1.85%, to $42.50 a barrel. November gasoline futures tacked on $0.0175, or 1.53%, to $1.1578 per gallon. November heating oil futures advanced $0.0222, or 1.93%, to $1.1696 a gallon.

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