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Natural Gas Mar '17 (NGH17)

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Natural Gas Futures Market News and Commentary

Natural Gas Prices Close Lower on Robust U.S. Nat-Gas Output

June Nymex natural gas (NGM19) on Friday closed down by -0.008 (-0.30%). Ramped -up U.S. nat-gas production weighed on prices as Friday's data showed U.S. 48-state nat-gas production up by +9.6% y/y to 85.409 bcf. Thursday’s weekly EIA inventory data was bearish as well as U.S. nat-gas supplies rose 106 bcf, above expectations of 103 bcf, and well above the 5-year average for this time of year of 89 bcf. Another negative factor for nat-gas prices was Monday's action by China to raise tariffs on U.S. LNG exports to 25% from 10% as of June 1, which may further curb Chinese demand for U.S. nat-gas. Chinese demand for U.S. nat-gas was already hurt by the original 10% tariff on U.S. nat-gas exports as seen by the fact that China has imported only four cargoes of American gas so far in 2019, compared with 19 cargoes over the same period a year ago. June nat-gas prices posted a 1-month high Tuesday on the outlook for increased U.S. nat-gas consumption. NOAA has forecast warmer-than-normal temperatures in across most of the eastern U.S during May 22-26, but below-normal temperatures for the western regions. Nat-gas supplies stood at a 3-month high of 1.653 bcf as of May 10, up +7.5% y/y but -14.7% below the 5-year average. Big Picture Natural Gas Market Factors: Bullish factors include (1) tight U.S. working gas inventories that as of May 10 stood at 1.653 tcf, -14.7% below the 5-year average, (2) solid demand from Mexico for U.S. nat-gas after export data showed U.S. nat-gas deliveries to Mexico totaled 5.2 bcf on April 26, the highest seasonally since at least 2007, (3) strong global natural gas demand due to firm global economic growth and the need to substitute for coal to reduce global CO2 emissions, and (4) significant U.S. nat-gas export potential. Bearish factors include (1) the action by China to raise tariffs on U.S. LNG exports to 25% from 10% as of June 1, which may further curb Chinese demand for U.S. nat-gas, (2) a record 123 bcf increase in weekly U.S. nat-gas inventories in the week ended Apr 26, the largest weekly gain in EIA inventories in data going back to 1994, (3) near-record U.S. natural gas production and forecasts for production growth of +3% in 2019.
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