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Natural Gas Slips on Bigger-Than-Expected US Supply Build

October 8, 2020 at 17:26 by Andrew Moran

Natural gas futures are sliding toward the end of the trading week after the US government reported a slightly bigger-than-expected build in domestic stockpiles. Natural gas has been gaining momentum on cooler weather patterns forming across the US and Canada, growing foreign demand, and Hurricane Delta in the Gulf of Mexico.

November natural gas futures slipped $0.012, or 0.46%, to $2.594 per million British thermal units (btu) at 17:09 GMT on Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Natural gas prices are on track for a weekly jump of about 4.5%, bringing their year-to-date gains to 19%.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), domestic inventories of natural gas surged by 75 billion cubic feet in the week ending October 2. Market observers had anticipated an increase of 71 billion cubic feet. In total, supplies stand at 3.831 trillion cubic feet, up 444 billion cubic feet from the same time a year ago. They are also 394 billion cubic feet above the five-year average.

In a separate report, the EIA reported that US liquid natural gas (LNG) exports advanced week over week. According to the EIA, 14 LNG vessels carrying an accrued 50 billion cubic feet left the US at the end of last month, suggesting that importers are beginning to acquire the so-called bridge fuel again.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Delta, which is trending between a Category 3 and Category 4 storm, is on target to hit the Gulf of Mexico by Friday. Oil and gas companies are already preparing for the weather event, shutting down roughly one-fifth of US natural gas output. These firms have also been suspending operations for crude oil production that represents about 29% of national output.

In a new forecast, the US Weather Service said that the chance of La Nina through the winter stands at 85%. La Nina typically brings frigid temperatures to North America, which would be bullish for energy commodities since it would increase consumption. It is unclear if the futures market has already priced in the freezing temperatures, or if investors are only taking into account current developments.

In other energy commodities, November West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures advanced $1.32, or 3.3%, to $41.27 per barrel. December Brent crude futures rallied $1.41, or 3.36%, to $43.40 per barrel. November gasoline futures picked up $0.0361, or 3.01%, to $1.237 per gallon. November heating oil futures added $0.0272, or 2.34%, to $1.1877 a gallon.

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