Investing.com — Natural gas futures limped in with a daily gain and a small weekly loss as market participants look beyond the first injection of above 100 billion cubic feet, or bcf, in the current storage season for the fuel in anticipation of near-term demand.
The on the New York Mercantile Exchange’s Henry Hub settled Friday’s session at $2.172 per mmBtu, or metric million British thermal units — up 0.6% on the day. It was the first daily gain for the benchmark gas futures contract after four straight days of losses.
For the week, the contract finished down 0.4%, adding to the 15.6% plunge in the prior week.
“The second half of June into early July suggests that consistent heat isn’t too far off into the future and once that heat materializes demand will rebound,” Houston-based energy markets advisory Gelber & Associates said.
The market appears to be starting to price this in and further bullish support may materialize.
The rebound came after the Energy Information Administration, or EIA, reported in its roundup of gas for the week ended May 26 that U.S. inventories of the fuel rose by 110 bcf last week.
That compared with the 96-bcf injection seen in the prior week to May 19. It also contrasted against the 82-bcf injection seen during the same week a year ago and the five-year (2018-2022) average build of 101 bcf.
With the latest stockpile increase, the EIA reported that total gas in underground caverns in the United States stood at 2.446 trillion cubic feet, or tcf — up 29.5% from the year-ago level of 1.889 tcf and 16.6% higher than the five-year average of 2.097 tcf.
Just two weeks ago, Henry Hub’s benchmark gas contract hovered at 11-week highs of around $2.70, breaking out from the tight confines of mid-$2 pricing on the notion that the market may finally be turning the corner on fundamentals despite its oversupplied state.
But in recent days, it fell back to under $2.50, which has proven again to be a formidable barrier for gas bulls.