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NatGas Futures Drift Lower Following Plump Storage Data

June futures worked lower Thursday morning once the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a natural gas storage injection that was greater than what traders were expecting.

EIA reported a storage injection of 67 Bcf, about 6 Bcf greater than consensus estimates, and prices slipped after the number was released. June futures fell to $3.186, and at 10:45 a.m. EDT June was trading at $3.202, down 2.6 cents from Wednesday's settlement.

Before the number was released, Citi Futures Perspective predicted a build of 54 Bcf, and PIRA Energy was expecting a 66 Bcf increase. A Reuters survey of 21 traders and analysts revealed an average 61 Bcf injection with a range of 50-70 Bcf.

"We are still kind of stuck in a range, but we didn't touch the lows from yesterday," said a New York floor trader. "The market is moving sideways."

"The DOE reported a larger-than-expected 67 Bcf net injection into U.S. natural gas storage for the week ended April 28, more than the 62 Bcf five-year average refill," said Tim Evans of Citi Futures Perspective. "This was the third consecutive report that was weaker than what our weather-based model projected, implying a weakening trend in the background supply/demand balance. Even so, we still anticipate below-average storage injections over the next two reports, which may limit the downside for prices."

"We believe the storage report will be viewed as slightly negative," said Randy Ollenberger of BMO Capital Markets. "Storage is trending below last year's levels; however, rising associated gas production should keep U.S. storage levels at, or above, five-year averages, assuming normal weather."

Inventories now stand at 2,256 Bcf and are 359 Bcf less than last year and 303 Bcf greater than the five-year average. In the East Region 22 Bcf was injected, and the Midwest Region saw inventories rise by 15 Bcf. Stocks in the Mountain Region were greater by 4 Bcf, and the Pacific Region was up 5 Bcf. The South Central Region increased 21 Bcf.

Salt cavern storage rose by 8 Bcf to 329 and non-salt increased 13 Bcf to 697 Bcf.

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