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Natural gas ends a shade up as trades ponders direction amid storage build


By Barani Krishnan

Natural gas futures returned to positive territory on Thursday, after a three-day rally that was disrupted in the previous session, as traders pondered about direction following a larger weekly storage build.

The most-active May gas contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange’s Henry Hub settled up 2.7 cents, or 1.2%, at $2.249 per mmBtu, or million metric British thermal units. It was down for most of the day, plumbing a session low of $2.143, before rebounding in late trade.

In Wednesday’s session, May gas settled down 6%, after a 16% rise over three prior days, on expectations for wintry-like conditions through early May — which weather forecasters eventually tamped down by citing warmer conditions.

The US Energy (NASDAQ:USEG) Information Administration, or EIA, reported on Thursday that utilities in the country injected 69 billion cubic feet of gas into storage in the latest week to April 14 after burning a much-less-anticipated volume of the fuel for heating due to mild weather.

“​​This storage injection is on the higher end for this time of year and is attributed to the recent gains in production and renewable generation over the past week,” Houston-based energy markets advisory Gelber & Associates said in a note to its clients in natural gas.

Industry analysts tracked by had expected a build of 69 bcf on the average for last week, versus the 25-bcf injection for the week ended April 7.

The latest build also compared with the 47-bcf injection during the same week a year ago and a five-year (2018-2022) average increase of 41 bcf.

The EIA said inventories in U.S. gas storage now at a total of 1.930 trillion cubic feet, or tcf. That was 34% above the year-ago storage level of 1.442 tcf and nearly 21% higher than the five-year average of 1.601 tcf for gas inventories.

Chart-wise, the front-month May gas contract on the Henry Hub could stay above $2 so long as it held above major support at $2.04, Sunil Kumar Dixit, chief technical strategist at In Thursday’s trade, May gas got down $2.14 before rebounding off that session low.

The debate on when the bearish tide would irrevocably turn for ‘natty’ — as the all-season fuel for heating and cooling is known — has raged since gas prices began their headlong fall from 14-year highs of $10 per mmBtu, or million metric British thermal units, in August.

At brief intervals this year, the market had appeared to be on a cusp of a serious rebound — like in late February when it got above $3 after breaking below $2 earlier that month for the first time since September 2020.

This week, again, such a phenomenon appeared when the front-month May gas contract rallied to almost $2.40 — a level it had not reached since late March — exciting traders and analysts over the prospect of $3 pricing and beyond.



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