Natural Gas Futures Decline on Supply Gain
Source: BusinessWeek, Moming Zhou and Reg Curren (4/8/10)
"Without economic data to support it, natural gas isn't going anywhere right now."
Stockpiles gained 31 billion cubic feet in the week ended April 2 to 1.669 trillion cubic feet, the Energy Department said today. Analysts forecast a rise of 28 billion. An unexpected rise in the number of Americans filing initial jobless claims also weighed on futures.
"You are increasing supply at a time when you don't need it," said Cameron Horwitz, an analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. The stockpile gain "suggests that industrial demand might be a little bit weaker than people had assumed."
Natural gas for May delivery fell 9.9 cents, or 2.5%, to $3.92 per million Btu at 12:07 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The futures were trading at $3.976 before the report was released. Gas has fallen 30% this year.
Inventories last week were 12% above the five-year average, wider than an 11% surplus a week earlier.
Gas futures fell to $3.81 per million Btu on April 1, and touched a three-week high of $4.334 on April 6.
Prices may move in "a trading range between $3.75 and $4.30 between now and June," said Michael Rose of Angus Jackson Inc. "Without economic data to support it, natural gas isn't going anywhere right now."
Industrial demand will probably increase 6% this year, said Horwitz. "But that's really just a function of rebound from last year's anemic level. . ."
The number of gas rigs working in the U.S. increased to 949 last week, up 43% from July, according to Baker Hughes Inc.
"We may get some support at the $3.81 level," Horowitz said, "but if you continue to put rigs to work, potentially you could break below that level."