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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

Mar Nymex natural gas (NGH19) on Friday closed up by +0.052 (+2.02%). Nat-gas prices recovered from a 1-year nearest-futures low in overnight trade Friday and moved higher on forecasts for below-normal temperatures in the U.S., which should increase heating demand for nat-gas. NOAA projects colder-than-normal temperatures across most of the Western, Midwest and Northeast U.S. during Feb 19-23. Also, Radiant Solutions is forecasting below-normal temperatures from California to the Great Lakes through March 1 with a forecasted low in Chicago of 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 degrees Celsius) on Feb 26, 11 degrees below normal. Nat-gas prices early Friday slipped to a 1-year low on signs of adequate supplies after weekly EIA nat-gas inventories on Thursday fell by only -78 bcf, less than expectations of -82 bcf and much less than the 5-year average of a decline of -160 bcf. Also, the March-April nat-gas futures spread remained negative by -3.3 cents on Friday. A negative spread suggests nat-gas supplies will be ample by the end of the heating season. U.S. nat-gas stockpiles as of Feb 8 stood at an 8-month low of 1.882 tcf, down -0.1% y/y and -15.0% below the 5-year average.Big Picture Natural Gas Market Factors: Bullish factors include (1) tight U.S. working gas inventories that as of Feb 8 stood at an 8-month low of 1.882 tcf, -15.0% below the 5-year average, (2) strong global natural gas demand due to firm global economic growth and the need to substitute for coal to reduce global CO2 emissions, and (3) 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, (2) the March-April nat-gas futures spread moving into negative territory for the first time, which suggests nat-gas supplies will be abundant by the end of the heating season, and (3) 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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