Colder-than-normal conditions in a number of the country’s major gas markets last week resulted in a smaller-than-normal storage injection report. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Thursday morning that 18 Bcf was added to working gas storage for the week ending Oct. 16, well below both last year’s 71 Bcf build for the week and the five-year average injection of 60 Bcf.

The injection was inline with a number of industry estimates, but November natural gas futures temporarily spiked Thursday morning. The prompt-month contract was trading at $5.100 just prior to the 10:30 a.m. EDT report, but in the minutes that immediately followed the contract jumped to a high of $5.214. However, from there the selling came in, driving futures to close the regular session at $4.947, down 15.3 cents from Wednesday’s close.

While Bentek Energy had been expecting an injection of 25 Bcf, a Reuters survey consensus was for an 18 Bcf build and a Bloomberg survey consensus was for a 19 Bcf addition. While Citi Futures Perspective’s Tim Evans had been expecting only a 5 Bcf build for the week, the analyst still classified the actual 18 Bcf injection as neutral.

“As we’ve been noting, there’s risk of ‘buy the rumor and sell the news’ with respect to this report,” Evans said. “The data is bullish relative to the 60 Bcf five-year average, but not unexpected, and the reports to follow look like they’ll be much nearer the average rate of injections.”

One broker said he believed producers likely had a plan surrounding the storage report. “Perhaps some of the producers were saying that if they got an injection around 18 Bcf, the market would likely jump higher and they would sell into it. I think that is in fact what they did,” said a Washington, DC-based broker. “We sold off 30 cents from high to low, but we did not violate any super-important technical numbers. At the end of the day, I don’t think we can take much of anything away from the day as far as direction. The idea of such a small injection for the week really came as no surprise.”

According to the EIA, working gas in storage stood at 3,734 Bcf as of Oct. 16, setting yet another all-time record for gas inventories. Stocks are 397 Bcf higher than last year at this time and 432 Bcf above the five-year average of 3,302 Bcf. The East Region for the week injected 11 Bcf while the Producing and West regions added 5 Bcf and 2 Bcf, respectively.

If near-term weather forecasts are any guideline, robust injections may continue to be scarce as National Weather Service forecasts call for below-normal temperatures across much of the country. The six- to 10-day forecast for Oct. 28-Nov. 1 shows below-normal temperatures for almost the entire eastern and central portions of the United States. Some East Coast states along with most of the West are expected to see normal conditions for this time of year, with the exception of the West Coast, which will likely experience above-normal readings.

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