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Appalachian shale gas stocks are pummeled as benchmark price nears $2/MMBtu

Despite freezing temperatures blanketing the Northeast and Midwest U.S., natural gas spot prices dipped 6.5% to $2.012/MMBtu at the benchmark Henry Hub on Jan. 17 and investors continued to flee the stocks of the country's pure-play shale gas producers.

While shares in the nation's largest natural gas producer, EQT Corp., lost another 4% to $8.24, several of EQT's Appalachian peers got hammered: Marcellus Shale pioneer Range Resources Corp.'s shares fell 9% to just $3.96 while Utica Shale driller Gulfport Energy Corp.'s shares lost 7% to $1.90, both on heavy volume.

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The sell-off came on the heels of what should have been a bullish report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration that 109 Bcf of gas was pulled from storage during the week ended Jan. 10, well above analysts' expectations of 92 Bcf, according to S&P Global Platts' survey of analysts. The return of colder weather to high-gas-consuming regions, after a warm start to the year, added to hopes that gas prices would turn around.

January's warm start has been reflected in the performance of shale gas stocks for the year. EQT shares are off 24%, Gulfport's down 38% and Range shares have lost 18% of their value since 2020 began.

S&P Global Platts and S&P Global Market Intelligence are both owned by S&P Global Inc.