By Barani Krishnan
Investing.com -- U.S. natural gas prices fell 4% Thursday, reaching once again for a test of the critical $2 support, after weekly draw numbers for the fuel from storage turned out to be smaller than thought.
Utilities pulled 47 billion cubic feet of natural gas from storage for heating and electricity generation last week, lower than the 54 bcf anticipated by industry analysts, the Energy Information Administration, or EIA, said.
The weaker-than-forecast withdrawal left 1.853 trillion cubic feet, or tcf, of gas in U.S. inventory, the EIA said in its report on gas storage balance for the week ended March 24.
The current U.S. gas inventory is 31% higher from the balance at the same time a year ago and 21% up versus the five-year average for storage, the EIA said.
The gas balance for 2023 is the highest in recent memory and remains the bane of bulls in the market who’ve been trying to restart a spectacular rally they enjoyed just months ago before an unusually warm winter season led to a less-than-typical need for heating, sending excess gas supply into storage.
Natural gas for May delivery settled down 8 cents, or 3.8%, at $2.1040 per mmBtu, or metric million British thermal units, on the New York Mercantile Exchange’s Henry Hub.
For the first quarter that ends Friday, natural gas is set to lose 50% or more, in what could be its biggest quarterly decline in history.
Thursday's session low was $2.082 as gas bears came to less than a dime from testing the $2 support.
“Today marks the beginning of May as the NYMEX futures prompt contract, and natural gas prices continue to trend downward,” Houston-based energy markets advisory Gelber&Associates said in its daily note on gas. “Despite some traders relying on the contract rollover to maintain prices above the $2 mark, the market is still moving lower.”