Natural gas prices
Natural gas prices gained momentum toward the end of this week, closing at $2.68 MMBtu (million British thermal units) on Thursday, April 16. This was 7% higher than last Friday’s close of $2.511, and the lowest since June 2012.
An increase in prices is positive for natural gas producers including Cabot Oil & Gas (COG), QEP Resources (QEP), Encana (ECA), and Range Resources (RRC). All of these companies are components of the iShares Global Energy ETF (IXC). Together, they make up 1.3% of the ETF.
Price movements this week
Prices on Monday, April 13, remained flat at $2.511.
On Tuesday, prices increased by 0.75% to close at $2.53.
The increase was more pronounced on Wednesday, when prices rose by 3.2%. Natural gas prices rose on market speculation that low prices have caused electricity generators to switch from coal to natural gas. According to LCI Energy Insight, an energy analytics company, gas deliveries to power plants rose 12% compared to last year, to 23.3 Bcf (billion cubic feet) per day.
The rally continued into Thursday, as prices saw their biggest weekly gain since February. Prices settled 2.8% higher at $2.684 on Thursday.
Additional data from LCI Energy revealed that gas deliveries to power plants or electricity producers has averaged 21.78 Bcf per day so far this week. This is 18% more than the same week last year.
For more on last week’s natural gas consumption trends for power generation, read Part 4 of this series.
Also bullish for prices, weather forecasts from MDA Services suggested that temperatures across most of the eastern states would be below normal from April 21 until April 30.
Prices were trading near $2.66 on Friday, April 17. The decline seems to be market reaction to a bearish inventory report released by the EIA on April 16. Read more about the update in Part 1 of this series.