Natural Gas Prices Rise Slightly on Modest Addition to Stocks

Blue flames of a gas stoveThe U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) today reported the U.S. natural gas stocks increased by 89 billion cubic feet last week, at the lower end of a range of an expected build of between 87 and 100 billion cubic feet anticipated by analysts. Natural gas futures prices were down about 0.6% in advance of the EIA's report, at around $4.18 per million BTUs, but rose to around $4.20 immediately following the EIA report.

The EIA reported that U.S. working stocks of natural gas totaled 2.05 trillion cubic feet, about 84 billion cubic feet lower than the five-year average of 2.14 trillion cubic feet. Working gas in storage totaled 2.73 trillion cubic feet for the same period a year ago. Natural gas inventories are roughly in the middle of the five-year range.

The weekly storage increase is a bit smaller than the 99 billion cubic feet build in the previous week. Seasonal factors likely influenced the smaller increase. Late spring typically sees lower demand since both heating and cooling demands are diminished. The slightly lower storage total could also indicate that producers are waiting (hoping?) for prices to rise.

Here's how stocks of the largest U.S. natural gas producers are reacting to today's report:

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), the country's largest producer of natural gas, is down 0.5% to $91.72, in a 52-week range of $77.13 to $93.67.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) is down 0.1%, at $21.08 in a 52-week range of $14.25 to $22.97. Chesapeake's share drop is largely due to a downgrade to Neutral from J.P. Morgan.

EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) is down about 0.4%, at $130.39 in a 52-week range of $82.48 to $139.00.

The U.S. Natural Gas Fund (NYSEMKT: UNG) is up 0.8%, at $22.75 in a 52-week range of $15.18 to $24.09. The Market Vectors Oil Services ETF (NYSEMKT: OIH) is down 1.5%, at $43.89 in a 52-week range of $32.54 to $45.80. The first fund tracks spot prices; the second includes major drillers and services companies.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Commodities, Oil & Gas, Research Tagged: CHK, EOG, featured, OIH, UNG, XOM
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