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Natural Gas Surges 3% After US Supplies Post Smaller-Than-Expected Increase

May 31, 2018 at 15:09 by Andrew Moran

Natural gas futures are rallying towards the end of the holiday-shortened trading week after the US government reported a smaller-than-expected increase in domestic stockpiles. Natural gas prices surged in May and they could carry that momentum into June.

July natural gas futures rose $0.089, or 3.08%, to $2.974 per million British thermal units (btu) at 14:44 GMT on Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In May, natural gas surged nearly 8%, bringing its year-to-date gains to a little more than 6%.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), domestic natural gas inventories climbed by 96 billion cubic feet for the week ending May 25. The market anticipated an increase of 100 billion cubic feet. Natural gas supplies now total 1.725 trillion cubic feet, down 788 billion cubic feet from the same time a year ago, and 500 billion below the five-year average.

Similar to last week, warmer-than-normal temperatures are having an effect on natural gas markets. Hot weather in Europe and climbing temperatures in the US east coast are prompting natural gas investors to take a wait-and-see approach to near-term trades.

In other energy markets, July gasoline futures jumped $0.015, or 0.69%, to $2.18 per gallon. July heating oil futures were flat at $2.225 a gallon.

The EIA will also release its weekly crude report one day later because of the Memorial Day holiday. The American Petroleum Institute (API) forecasts a one-million-barrel boost in US oil stockpiles for the week ending May 25. Other analysts are expecting gasoline supplies to fall 1.5 million barrels, while distillate inventories will decline 1.1 million barrels.

US crude notched its first gain in six sessions on Wednesday after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced that it will maintain its production caps until at least the end of the year. OPEC leaders did hint last week that some member nations might rejuvenate their output levels with oil prices hovering around the $70 mark.

July West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures shed $1.01, or 1.48%, to $67.21 per barrel. July Brent crude futures rose $0.51, or 0.66%, to $78.01 a barrel.

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