Natural gas futures had the trajectory of a safe falling from a 10-story window following the release of government storage figures that were greater than what the market was expecting.
The injection of 112 Bcf was about 5 Bcf greater than trader expectations, which hovered around a 107 Bcf increase. For the week ended Sept. 26, the Energy Information Administration reported an increase of 112 Bcf in its 10:30 a.m. EDT release. November futures fell to a low of $3.919 soon after the number was released and by 10:45 a.m., November was trading at $3.935, down 8.8 cents from Wednesday's settlement.
Prior to the release of the data, analysts were looking for a build of just at 107 Bcf. A Reuters survey of 24 traders and analysts revealed an average increase of 107 Bcf with a range of 95-120 Bcf. IAF Advisors was looking for a build of 106 Bcf, and Bentek Energy's flow model also anticipated an injection of 107 Bcf.
"We had heard between 107 Bcf and 110 Bcf. That's a pretty high number for this time of year. We are getting to the latter stages of the injection season," said a New York floor trader. "We're back to the old trading range, but this thing looked like it had some upward momentum on Monday.
Analysts are thinking this might be as good as it gets. "[T]he build for the last week in September will likely mark the high point for injections during the second half of the season given the increase in weather-related load," said Teri Viswanath, director of commodity strategy for natural gas trading at BNP Paribas in a morning note to clients. "We had originally anticipated that restocking would peak this week; however, increased weather-related demand suggests that next week's release will come in 2-4 Bcf lower than today's report."
Inventories now stand at 3,100 Bcf and are 373 Bcf less than last year and 399 Bcf below the five-year average. In the East Region 68 Bcf was injected, and the West Region saw inventories increase by 8 Bcf. Stocks in the Producing Region rose by 36 Bcf.
The Producing region salt cavern storage figure added 14 Bcf from the previous week to 248 Bcf, while the non-salt cavern figure rose by 21 Bcf to 685 Bcf.