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Natural Gas Mar '19 (NGH19)

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Natural Gas 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.
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