Weather: A major catalyst
The weather is the major driver of natural gas prices, so investors can get an idea of how prices will likely move in the short term from the weather forecast. Natural gas prices in turn drive short-term movements in the stock prices of natural gas producers like Chesapeake Energy (CHK), QEP Resources (QEP), Range Resources (RRC), and Ultra Petroleum (UPL).
Also, since many of these companies are components of the Vanguard Energy ETF (VDE), making up ~1.3% of the ETF, these trends also affect the ETF as well. Let’s see how weather affected prices last week.
Natural gas price movement
Prices started the week by declining ~1.3% amid reports of higher-than-normal temperatures in the contiguous United States from March 12 through March 16 from Commodity Weather Group LLC.
Prices settled at $2.698 MMBtu (million British thermal units) on Monday, 2 March. Prices advanced on Tuesday, however, as forecasts from MDA Weather Services called for frigid temperatures across most of the east on March 12. Prices increased ~0.5% to $2.712.
Colder weather forecasts drove prices on Wednesday as well. They increased 2.1% to settle at $2.769.
Boosted by an upbeat inventory report (see Part 2 of this series), prices continued their rally on Thursday, increasing ~2.6%, to $2.841.
Prices were flat on Friday, falling 0.2 cents to end the week at $2.839.
Apart from weather, there’s one other factor that has affected and continues to affect natural gas prices. Continue to the next part of this series to learn more.