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Bullish NatGas Storage Figures Draw Muted Response

November futures inched higher Thursday following a report by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showing a storage injection for the week ended Sept. 22 that was less than what the market was expecting. The EIA reported a storage injection of 58 Bcf, about 8 Bcf less than consensus estimates.

Just before the 10:30 a.m. EDT report, the market was hovering around $3.036, and following the release of the number November futures rose to $3.081. By 10:45 a.m. November was trading at $3.069, up eight-tenths of a cent from Wednesday's settlement.

Before the release of the data traders were looking for a larger storage build. Last year 49 Bcf was injected and the five-year average build for the week stands at 84 Bcf. ION Energy calculated a 60 Bcf injection and Wells Fargo was looking for a 70 Bcf build. A Reuters survey of 24 traders and analysts showed an average build of 66 Bcf with a range of +59 Bcf to +73 Bcf.

"We are trading the range, but we poked slightly higher, so I am favoring the upside," said Tom Saal, vice president at FCStone Latin America.

"The muted response is due to the fact we are trading a winter month in a shoulder month time frame. The market is trading the way it should. It was definitely a bullish number but the market has to work off last week's number [97 Bcf] which was 5 or 6 Bcf higher than expected.

"The economist in me says we are trading a shoulder month," he said.

As positive as the number may have seemed, it was only enough to nudge the market higher. "It's going to take a lot more than this [number] to move the market higher. At least we are solidly above $3," said a New York floor trader.

Inventories now stand at 3,466 Bcf and are 127 Bcf less than last year and 41 Bcf greater than the five-year average. In the East Region 15 Bcf were injected, and the Midwest Region saw inventories rise by 26 Bcf. Stocks in the Mountain Region were 5 Bcf greater and the Pacific Region grew by 7 Bcf. The South Central Region added 5 Bcf.

Salt storage rose by 1 Bcf to 305 Bcf and non-salt storage increased 4 Bcf to 825 Bcf.

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