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Natural Gas Snaps Skid on Falling US Inventories

December 20, 2018 at 16:25 by Andrew Moran

Natural gas futures have snapped their recent string of losses on Thursday as the US government reported that domestic inventories declined as much as the market expected. Over the last week, natural gas prices recorded immense losses, lowering its 2018 gains to just 22%, down from more than 40% earlier this month.

January natural gas futures tacked on $0.01, or 0.3%, to $3.73 per million British thermal units (btu) at 15:02 GMT on Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Natural gas is on track for a steep weekly loss of approximately 10%.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), domestic supplies of natural gas decreased by 141 billion cubic feet for the week ending December 14, which is in line with the market estimate of 145 billion cubic feet. In total, US stockpiles stand at 2.773 trillion cubic feet, down 697 billion cubic feet from the same time a year ago. They are also 720 billion below the five-year average.

Heading into 2019, industry observers believe that natural gas prices could surge because of rising foreign liquefied natural gas (LNG) demand.

Natural gas recorded a 6% gain earlier this week when the Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) said that polar vortex is projected to hit the East Coast at the end of December and early January, creating large volumes of snow and generating freezing temperatures. A polar vortex occurs when the stratosphere warms up, bringing strong winds that splits the vortex and produces cold air from the north that then travels south.

In other energy markets, February West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures shed $1.56, or 3.32%, to $46.57 per barrel. February Brent crude futures fell $1.60, or 2.8%, to $55.64 a barrel. February gasoline futures dropped $0.015, or 1.16%, to $1.35 a gallon. February heating oil futures slid $0.025, or 1.36%, to $1.77 per gallon.

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