U.S. natural gas futures fell on Friday on technical selling and forecasts pointing to lower demand, but prices posted their first monthly gain since November as above-normal temperatures boosted gas use for cooling.
On its second day as the front-month, gas futures for October delivery fell 1.1 cents, or 0.5%, to settle at $2.285 per million British thermal units.
“We’re seeing some profit-taking from this week’s price action. We saw some buy-side interest come in and rally the September contract and the October contract again yesterday, largely technically driven from oversold market conditions,” said Robert DiDona of Energy Ventures Analysis.
“We don’t think we will see a big price movement today either up or down” heading into the long holiday weekend, DiDona added.
Investors were watching category 3 Hurricane Dorian, which gained strength as it crept closer to Florida’s coast, raising the risk that parts of the U.S. state will be hit by strong winds, a storm surge and heavy rain for a prolonged period after it makes landfall early next week.
Refinitiv data projected demand in the Lower 48 would fall to 85.9 bcfd next week from 88.9 bcfd this week. This compares with the 87.8 bcfd forecast for the prior week.
Gas production in the lower 48 U.S. states rose to 91.3 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) on Thursday from 90.8 bcfd on Wednesday, Refinitiv data showed. This compares with an all-time high of 92.5 bcfd scaled on Aug. 19.
Refinitiv data indicated 163 cooling degree days (CDDs) in the lower 48 states over the next two weeks. The normal is 144 CDDs for this time of year.
Analysts said gas futures had traded near multi-year lows since May because record output and mild spring weather allowed utilities to inject huge amounts of gas into storage.
The amount of gas in inventory has remained below the five-year average since September 2017. It fell as low as 33% below that average in March 2019. But with production expected to keep growing, analysts said, stockpiles should reach a near-normal 3.7 trillion cubic feet (tcf) by the end of the summer injection season on Oct. 31.