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NYMEX August gas futures nudge higher after larger-than-expected storage build

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The NYMEX August natural gas futures contract increased Friday, up 2.10 cents to settle at $2.858/MMBtu after the US Energy Information Administration announced a larger-than-expected storage build for the week that ended June 29.

The front-month contract traded Friday between $2.824/MMBtu and $2.862/MMBtu.

The EIA announced a storage build of 78 Bcf, boosting total stocks to 2.152 Tcf for the week that ended June 29. Analysts had expected a 74 Bcf build. Total stocks are 717 Bcf below year-ago inventory levels and 493 Bcf under the five-year historical average.

Although the storage deficit continues to persist, the market is factoring in the record production of the last few days and is not really reacting, according to Daniel Myers, a market analyst at Gelber & Associates.

"In June, the market felt pressure that helped prices build to the $3/MMBtu mark, but that has acted as a price ceiling because of high production," Myers said.

US dry gas production is expected to total 79.9 Bcf Friday, after three record-breaking days in the last week, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics data.

Total US supply has averaged 86.5 Bcf/d so far in July, an 8.6 Bcf/d increase compared with the same period in 2017, according to Platts Analytics.

Looking ahead, the most recent eight- to 14-day outlook from the National Weather Service continues to call for warmer-than-average temperatures in the

Northeast and Midwest, in line with the weather service's most recent one-month forecast, which projected a warmer-than-average July.

So far in July, the Northeast has seen average power burn of 9.313 Bcf/d, a 23% increase compared with the same time last year. The Midwest is averaging

power burn of 3.357 Bcf/d, 1.138 Bcf/d higher than in the year-ago period, according to Platts Analytics.

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

(Correct settlement price)

--Arsalan Syed, arsalan.syed@spglobal.com

--Edited by Jennifer Pedrick, jennifer.pedrick@spglobal.com