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Natural Gas Futures Scoot Higher Following Lean Storage Build

Natural gas futures rose Thursday morning after the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a storage injection that was somewhat less than what the market was expecting.

EIA reported a 34 Bcf storage injection in its 10:30 a.m. EDT release, about 5 Bcf less than what traders and analysts were calculating. August futures reached a high of $2.710 immediately after the figures were released, and by 10:45 a.m. August was trading at $2.686, up 2.8 cents from Wednesday's settlement.

"We shot up right after the number came out, and we are about 2 cents higher than when it was released," said a New York floor trader. "Just prior to the number, the ICE swap was 37 [Bcf], and it was traded pretty heavily. Off of that number you knew it was going to pop."

"The 34 Bcf net injection for last week was both less than expected and below the 61 Bcf five-year average benchmark, and so supportive on a seasonally adjusted basis," said Tim Evans of Citi Futures Perspective. "This may test the market's ability to look beyond current hot temperatures to the August seasonal cooling trend that will follow. At the same time, storage did reach a new record high for the date, and so any price strength may remain limited."

Inventories now stand at 3,277 Bcf and are 471 Bcf greater than last year and 559 Bcf more than the five-year average. In the East Region 19 Bcf was injected, and the Midwest Region saw inventories increase by 16 Bcf. Stocks in the Mountain Region rose 2 Bcf, and the Pacific Region was lower by 1 Bcf. The South Central Region fell 2 Bcf.

Salt cavern storage was down 6 Bcf at 349 Bcf, while the non-salt cavern figure was higher by 3 Bcf at 901 Bcf.

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