Natural-gas futures climbed Thursday, poised to score their ninth gain in 10
Natural-gas futures climbed Thursday, poised to score their ninth gain in 10 sessions as warmer U.S. weather lifted demand prospects for the fuel.
But prices pared some of their earlier gains, pulling back after the recent streak of gains even after a U.S. government report showed a smaller-than-expected weekly climb in natural-gas stockpiles.
Crude-oil futures, meanwhile, tried to recoup some of the hefty 2.8% loss they suffered a day earlier in the wake of a larger-than-expected weekly climb in U.S. crude inventories.
September natural gas NGU16, +1.97% rose 3.5 cents, or 1.3%, to $2.831 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It traded at $2.866 before the supply data. Prices are still roughly 11% higher for the week so far, lifting the year-to-date climb past 22%.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration early Thursday reported that supplies of the commodity rose 11 billion cubic feet for the week ended August 19. That was slightly below the average rise of 18 billion cubic feet expected by analysts polled by S&P Global Platts.
But “a small figure was largely priced-in throughout the week and heading into the report, with several of the most recent estimates even seeing a single-digit as a possibility,” Joseph George, commodity analyst at Schneider Electric told MarketWatch.
“Strong production figures are weighing on the market as well and holding off an additional rally on top of what we’ve seen in recent days,” he said. “Even though temperatures are expected to remain warm over the next two weeks, continually elevated supply relative to recent months is helping to counter the additional demand.”
Tim Evans, an energy analyst at Citi Futures, pointed out that while the small weekly supply increase is “supportive,” it will also “mean a more pronounced drop in demand when temperatures cool in the weeks ahead.”
Meanwhile, crude-oil futures on Thursday were trading a bit higher, set for a weekly loss of around 4.1%, but trading over 13% higher for the month so far.
“The market’s a bit indecisive at the moment,” said Robbie Fraser, commodity analyst at Schneider Electric. Prices are likely on the rise “for no better reason than the fact that we had a decent drop yesterday.”
October West Texas Intermediate crude CLV6, +0.68% added 34 cents, or 0.7%, to $47.11 a barrel on Nymex. October Brent crude on London’s ICE Futures exchange LCOV6, +0.94% traded up 50 cents, or 1%, to $49.55 a barrel.
WTI got a “technical bounce off minor [short-term] support at $46.49, though the minor trend remains down,” said Darin Newsom, DTN senior analyst.
Traders are buying dollar-denominated oil “as the U.S. dollar index DXY, -0.01% didn’t get much of a bounce off bullish weekly jobless claims and July durable goods” released early Thursday, he said. The markets are also waiting for clues on the Federal Reserve’s plan for interest rates from Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s speech Friday at the Jackson Hole, Wyo. symposium.
Oil prices fell Wednesday to a roughly one-week low after the EIA reported that domestic crude supplies rose by a larger-than-expected 2.5 million barrels in the week ended Aug. 19. Gasoline inventories were also flat for the week, contrary to expectations for a decline.
Brent came under pressure Wednesday “after Iraq said it still isn’t producing as much as it should be, raising concerns that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will continue to increase,” said ANZ Research.
The U.S. Navy released footage showing four Iranian military vessels approaching a U.S. destroyer at high speed in international waters near the Persian Gulf.
Iraq’s intention to raise output is one of many potential upside risks that the market is monitoring as Nigeria and Libya, whose production and exports were stunted by militant attacks in recent months, are also gearing to ramp up their output.
—Sara Sjolin contributed to this article