August futures showed great resilience Friday morning following an Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report that by all accounts was bearish in nature and well above industry estimates.
The EIA reported a storage injection of 72 Bcf for the week ended June 30, about 8 Bcf greater than consensus estimates. Following the 10:30 a.m. EDT release of the figures on Friday, August futures dipped to $2.880, and at 11:30 a.m. EDT August was trading at $2.900. Just prior to 1 p.m. EDT, the prompt-month contract was hovering around $2.865, down 2.3 cents from Thursday's settlement.
Prior to the report traders were looking for a storage build somewhat less. Last year 38 Bcf was injected and the five-year average stands at 66 Bcf. FCStone INTL calculated a 59 Bcf injection and ION Energy estimated a 66 Bcf increase. A Reuters survey of 21 traders and analysts showed an average of 64 Bcf with a range of +57 Bcf to +68 Bcf.
Traders see a weaker supply demand balance, but also suggest a correction from the prior week's less than expected build.
"The 72 Bcf in net injections for last week was somewhat more than the consensus expectation for a 64-66 Bcf build, and marginally above the 66-Bcf five-year average for the date," said Tim Evans of Citi Futures Perspective. "This implies a somewhat weaker background supply/demand balance or at least a correction after the smaller-than-expected 46 bcf refill in the prior week."
"The market did trade down off the number but bounced back," said a New York floor trader. "How much lower do we think the market can go at this point?"
Inventories now stand at 2,888 Bcf and are 285 Bcf less than last year and 187 Bcf greater than the five-year average. In the East Region 28 Bcf was injected, and the Midwest Region saw inventories rise by 23 Bcf. Stocks in the Mountain Region were greater by 3 Bcf and the Pacific Region was up 7 Bcf. The South Central Region increased 11 Bcf.
Salt storage was unchanged at 341 Bcf and non-salt increased 11 Bcf to 810 Bcf.