Market Update 3/22/2013

Natural gas futures fell in afternoon trading on Thursday after official U.S. data revealed that supplies dropped less than expected last week.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas futures for delivery in April traded at USD3.925 per million British thermal units, down 0.90%.

The commodity hit a session low of USD3.894 and a high of USD4.023.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas storage in the U.S. in the week ended March 15 fell by 62 billion cubic feet, compared to expectations for a drop of 70 billion cubic feet.

Inventories withdrawals were flat in the same week a year earlier, while the five-year average change for the week is a decline of 26 billion cubic feet.

Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 1.876 trillion cubic feet as of last week. Stocks were 502 billion cubic feet less than last year at this time and 162 billion cubic feet above the five-year average of 1.714 trillion cubic feet for this time of year.

The report showed that in the East Region, stocks were 21 billion cubic feet above the five-year average, following net withdrawals of 47 billion cubic feet.

Stocks in the Producing Region were 63 billion cubic feet above the five-year average of 691 billion cubic feet after a net withdrawal of 15 billion cubic feet.

The data wiped out earlier gains.

The commodity hit near 18-month highs earlier on forecasts for temperatures to remain below normal for the coming days

In its five-day forecast, industry group MDA Weather Services predicted below-normal temperatures to stick around in the heavily populated eastern half of the U.S.

The heating season from November through March is the peak demand period for U.S. gas consumption. Nearly 50% of all U.S. households use gas for heating.

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