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NYMEX September natural gas settles 3.1 cents lower on bearish storage report

Houston — The NYMEX September natural gas futures contract fell Thursday after the US Energy Information Administration announced a larger-than-expected build in storage inventories.

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The front-month contract settled 3.1 cents lower at $2.202/MMBtu after trading in a $2.187/MMBtu to $2.333/MMBtu range.

In addition, the December and January contracts fell 3.2 cents and 2.4 cents to $2.488/MMBtu and $2.617/MMBtu, respectively.

The EIA reported an estimated 65 Bcf injection into storage facilities in the week that ended July 26. The consensus expectations of analysts surveyed by S&P Global Platts were for a 53 Bcf build. The five-year average build was 36.6 Bcf.

The cumulative amount of gas in storage at the end of the most recent reporting period was estimated at 2.63 Tcf, a 14.5% surplus to the year-ago level, but a 4.5% deficit to the five-year average of 2.76 Tcf, EIA data show.

Looking forward, analyst John Woods of JJ Woods Associates said: "The market is poised to make a bull run. I'm expecting gas to rise on a weekend change as summer isn't over yet."

The National Weather Service's most recent eight- to 14-day forecast calls for warmer-than-average temperatures for much of the South, balancing the cooler-than-average temperatures expected in much of the Northeast and Midwest.

US demand is expected to total 75.3 Bcf Thursday and to average 73.1 Bcf/d over the next week, before rising to an average of 75.2 Bcd/d in the period eight to 14 days hence, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.

Dry production is expected to rise from Thursday's expected 88.3 Bcf to an average of 88.8 Bcf/d in the period eight to 14 days out, which could put pressure on prices, Platts Analytics data show.

The NYMEX settlement price is considered preliminary and subject to change until a final settlement price is posted at 7 pm EDT (2300 GMT).

-- Humza Jamal, Humza.Jamal@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, newsdesk@spglobal.com