The NYMEX June natural gas futures contract rolled off the board Thursday at $1.963/MMBtu, down 2.9 cents.
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Earlier Thursday, US natural gas in storage climbed 71 Bcf to 2.825 Tcf for the week that ended Friday, a build that was above analyst consensus expectations of a 68-Bcf injection to stocks.
"The 71-Bcf net injection for the week ended May 20 was slightly more than the consensus expectation, but still supportive compared [with] the 97-Bcf five-year average for the date," said Tim Evans, energy future specialist at Citi Futures Perspective.
In the corresponding week a year ago, EIA reported a 106-Bcf injection, while the five-year average build is 97 Bcf. As a result, stocks were 756 Bcf, or 36.5%, higher than the year-ago level of 2.069 Tcf, and 769 Bcf, or 37.4%, more than the five-year average of 2.056 Tcf.
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"The data followed a bullish surprise in the prior week, suggesting that there may have been some temperature swings at the margin between the two periods," Evans added.
The National Weather Service's six- to 10-day outlook projected above-average temperatures over significant portions of the Northeast, Southeast, Upper Midwest and the entire West Coast, possibly spurring more cooling demand in major markets heading into June.
Total dry gas production is expected to rise to 70.8 Bcf/d, making Tuesday's production total of 70.3 Bcf/d once again the 2016 year-to-date low. Dry production is on pace to average around 70 Bcf/d in May, reflecting a reduction in production for three months in a row from February's high of more than 73 Bcf/d, according to data from Bentek Energy, a unit of Platts.
Supply and demand was expected to be out of balance, with total supply -- including imports -- at about 77.5 Bcf/d and total demand at about 66 Bcf/d over the next seven days.
The June gas contract traded Thursday in a range between $1.909/MMBtu and $1.985/MMBtu.
The NYMEX settlement is considered preliminary and subject to change until a final settlement price is posted at 7 pm EDT (2300 GMT).
--Ashish Kothari, email@example.com
--Edited by Valarie Jackson, firstname.lastname@example.org