Natural gas futures staged a brief rally Thursday morning after the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a storage draw that was slightly larger than what traders were expecting.
Utilizing its new five-region format, EIA reported a 53 Bcf withdrawal in its 10:30 a.m. EST release. The pull on storage put inventories at 3,956 Bcf. January futures rose to a high of $2.190, but by 10:45 a.m. January was trading at $2.153, down 1.2 cents from Wednesday's settlement.
Prior to the release of the data, analyst estimates were close to 50 Bcf. IAF Advisors was looking for a pull of 49 Bcf, and a Reuters poll of 26 traders and analysts showed a range from -24 Bcf to -66 Bcf with an average -51 Bcf. Industry consultant Genscape calculated a 54 Bcf withdrawal.
"We were expecting 54 Bcf and it came in 53 Bcf. Literally right after the number came out the $2.190 print went up, but then the market failed," a New York floor trader told NGI. "Trading volume in January was 45,000, which is a little light. There wasn't any revelation off the report."
"While technically constructive, we don't see it as much of an offset to the further warming trend in the 11-15 day temperature forecast," said Tim Evans of Citi Futures Perspective.
Inventories now stand at 3,956 Bcf and are 543 Bcf greater than last year and 247 Bcf more than the five-year average. In the East Region 16 Bcf was pulled, and the Midwest Region saw inventories fall by 18 Bcf. Stocks in the Mountain Region were lower by 3 Bcf, and the Pacific Region was down 6 Bcf. The South Central Region, similar to the former Producing Region, shed 10 Bcf.
Salt cavern storage was down 2 Bcf at 380 Bcf, while the non-salt cavern figure declined 8 Bcf to 962 Bcf.