Choosing to follow crude’s weakness instead of minor concerns related to Tropical Storm Adrian in the Pacific, June natural gas futures resumed a downward trek on Wednesday.
Following yet another bearish crude inventory report at 10:30 a.m. EDT, June crude began its descent with natural gas futures in tow. After notching a $6.37 low just after noon, the natural gas prompt month traded back and forth within a small range before settling at $6.392, down 8.4 cents for the day. The $6.37 trade was the lowest a prompt month has been since the March contract reached a $6.25 low on expiration day, Feb. 24, 2005.
June crude had another significant strike lower Wednesday. The contract reached a low of $47/bbl before settling at $47.25, down $1.72 from Tuesday. The Energy Department said Wednesday that crude oil stocks grew by 4.3 million barrels for the week ended April 13, well above what analysts expected.
“The new [natural gas] low to $6.37 threatened to send June natural gas tumbling toward the longer-term support expected at the $5.71-6.11 January-February lows, but the market also has the option of continuing to chop sideways within its declining price channel,” said Tim Evans of IFR Energy Services. “A bounce beyond the $6.57 overnight high would even give the market more of an upward corrective feel, that we think could challenge the 20-day moving average at $6.73, the downtrend resistance at $6.785 or the $6.84 high of May 10 as the top of the range since April 28.”
The National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center said Wednesday afternoon that Tropical Storm Adrian was moving closer to the Pacific Coast of Central America. “Interests in Central America should closely monitor the progress of this system,” the NHC said.
The forecast said a general motion toward the northeast is expected to resume into Thursday with a gradual increase in forward speed from its current 8 mph. The NHC said maximum sustained winds are near 60 mph and Adrian could become a hurricane on Thursday.
Despite the approach of Adrian, Evans said the storm is not likely to cause a problem to oil and gas production areas. “Overall, the direction of crude oil continues to be the more critical short-term directional indicator and the actual physical storm is not expected to threaten producing areas either in the Gulf of Yucatan or the Gulf of Mexico itself,” he said.
Looking towards the Energy Information Administration’s natural gas storage report release on Thursday morning, Evans said the market will likely see a build between 80-100 Bcf, with the consensus running about the 85 Bcf mark. He warned that anything above the 75 Bcf five-year average will add to the 275 Bcf year-on-five-year average surplus. Last year saw an injection of 84 Bcf for the week.
Citigroup’s Kyle Cooper is looking for a build between 79 and 89 Bcf. The ICAP-Nymex storage options auction, which runs from 3-4 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, revealed a consensus forecast of a 88 Bcf injection.
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