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Storage withdrawal slight downside miss against expectations, above averages

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a net 43-Bcf withdrawal from natural gas inventories in the Lower 48 during the week ended March 24 that was just below market expectations but well above historical averages.

The withdrawal was a downside miss against the market consensus ahead of the report's release that called for a 44-Bcf draw from stocks, but was above both the 19-Bcf withdrawal reported for the same week in 2016 and the five-year average withdrawal of 27 Bcf.

The draw brought total U.S. working gas supply to 2,049 Bcf, or 423 Bcf below the year-ago level and 250 Bcf above the five-year average storage level of 1,799 Bcf.

May natural gas, in its first day as the lead contract, was trading lower ahead of the data's release. Exchanged from $3.172/MMBtu to $3.228/MMBtu, the contract was 4.0 cents lower on the day at $3.191/MMBtu at 10:29 a.m. ET. Following the data's 10:30 a.m. ET release, the contract extended the downside to a $3.141/MMBtu low, before retracing losses to move 1.6 cents lower at $3.215/MMBtu at last glance.

In the East, inventories were down 31 Bcf on the week at 278 Bcf, or 37.0% below the year-ago level. Storage levels in the Midwest were down 20 Bcf at 486 Bcf, or 12.7% below the year-ago level. In the Mountain region, storage levels were up 4 Bcf on the week to 141 Bcf, or 4.1% below the year-ago level, while in the Pacific region, storage levels were up 4 Bcf at 212 Bcf, or 19.1% below the year-ago level. In the South Central region, where storage levels were unchanged on the week, stocks are at a deficit of 12.4% to a year earlier.

Working gas stocks in the South Central region totaled 932 Bcf, with 289 Bcf in salt cavern facilities and with 644 Bcf in non-salt cavern facilities. Working gas stocks were down 6 Bcf in salt cavern facilities and up 7 Bcf in non-salt cavern facilities since the previous week.

Market prices and included industry data are current as of the time of publication and are subject to change. For more detailed market data, including power, natural gas index prices, as well as forwards and futures, visit our Commodities Pages.