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Fri, Jan 18th, 2019
[[ timeframe ]] futures price quotes as of Fri, Jan 18th, 2019.
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Futures Market News and Commentary

Natural Gas Market News and Commentary

Feb Nymex natural gas (NGG19) on Friday closed up by +0.069 (+2.02%). Nat-gas prices recovered from early losses Friday and closed higher on the outlook for colder-than-normal temperatures to move into the U.S. this weekend. Feb nat-gas rallied sharply this week to a 3-week high Tuesday on concern that an anticipated cold snap for the lower-48 states will drain nat-gas stockpiles that are already near a 16-year low. NOAA has projected below-normal temperatures for the next 8 to 14 days for the central U.S. and Radiant Solutions forecasts "sizable changes in the colder direction" of below-normal temperatures from Jan 24-28 with freezing weather projected to reach as far south as Houston. Another positive for nat-gas prices is reduced U.S. nat-gas output after Friday's data showed that lower-48 state nat-gas production fell for a fourth day to a 2-week low of 84.028 bcf. Nat gas opened lower Friday on negative carry-over from Thursday's weekly EIA inventory data that showed U.S. nat-gas inventories fell -81 bcf, right on expectations, but a much smaller draw than the 5-year average for this time of year of -218 bcf. U.S. nat-gas inventories remain tight at -2.0% y/y at 2.533 bcf as of Jan 11, which is -11.4% below the 5-year average.Big Picture Natural Gas Market Factors: Bullish factors include (1) tight U.S. working gas inventories at -11.4% below the 5-year average, (2) an expected polar cold snap for the lower-48 states from late Jan to early Feb that may drain U.S. nat-gas stockpiles that are already near a 16-year low, (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. LNG export potential as U.S. pipeline exports to Mexico rose to a 2-3/4 month high of 5.127 bcf and are up by +19% so far this year. Bearish factors include (1) near-record U.S. natural gas production and forecasts for production growth of +3% in 2019, and (2) China’s 10% retaliatory tariff on U.S. LNG, which substantially reduces the potential for U.S. LNG exports to China, although China as part of the Dec 1 US/Chinese tariff ceasefire agreed to start buying U.S. LNG.
Crude and Gasoline Market News and Commentary

Feb WTI crude oil (CLG19) on Friday closed up +$1.73 (+3.32%) per barrel and Mar Brent crude (CBH19) closed up +$1.53 (+2.48%). Feb RBOB gasoline (RBG19) closed up +2.28 cents per gallon (+1.59%). The energy complex rallied sharply Friday with crude prices at 1-1/2 month highs and gasoline at a 5-week high on optimism the U.S.-China trade war may soon be settled. Optimism increased after China, the world's second-largest crude consumer, offered to escalate imports of U.S. goods to shrink its trade gap with the U.S. a day after U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin was said to be in favor of eliminating tariffs on Chinese goods in order to strike a trade deal. The trade optimism fueled a sharp rally in equities, which boosts confidence in the economic outlook and energy demand. Signs of slower OPEC crude production is further underpinning crude prices as OPEC Dec crude output fell -751,000 bpd to 31.58 million bpd, the biggest monthly decline in nearly two years, led by a -468,000 bpd cut in crude production from Saudi Arabia. Also, OPEC Dec compliance with its crude production cuts rose to 163% from 112% in Nov, the most in 8 months. Crude prices extended their gains Friday afternoon after Baker Hughes reported that U.S. active oil rigs fell by -21 rigs in the week ended Jan 18 to an 8-month low of 852 rigs.Big Picture Crude Oil Market Factors: Bearish factors include (1) the surge in U.S. oil production to a record high of 11.9 million bpd, (2) the recent stock market turmoil where the S&P 500 dropped to a 20-month low and China's Shanghai Composite sank to a 4-year low, which undercuts confidence in the global economic outlook and in energy demand, (3) the recent rally in the dollar index to a 1-1/2 year high, (4) the increase in crude supplies at Cushing, the delivery point for WTI futures, to a 1-year high, and (5) increased U.S. crude exports that add to global supplies after U.S. crude exports in the week ended Nov 30 rose +761,000 bpd to a record 3.203 million bpd. Bullish factors include (1) the -530,000 bpd decline in OPEC Dec crude production to a 5-month low of 32.62 million bpd, (2) the increase in OPEC Dec compliance with its crude production cuts to 163% from 112% in Nov, the most in 8 months, (3) the reinstatement of full U.S. sanctions on Iran as of Nov 5, although the U.S. gave waivers to 8 countries for up to 1.25 mln bpd of Iranian exports, (4) the agreement by OPEC+ on Dec 7 to cut crude oil production by 1.2 million bpd for the first six months of 2019 (800,000 bpd for OPEC members), which should soak up much of the expected 2019 global oil surplus, and (5) the 50% drop in Venezuelan production seen since 2016.
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