U.S. natural gas futures were under pressure on Wednesday, as market players awaited the release of fresh weekly information on U.S. gas inventories to gauge the strength of demand for the fuel. Natural gas for delivery in January on the New York Mercantile Exchange sank 4.7 cents, or 2.04%, to trade at $2.276 per million British thermal units during U.S. morning hours. The U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its weekly report on natural gas supplies at 12:00PM ET Wednesday. The report comes out one day earlier than usual due to the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. on Thursday. The data is expected to show a build of approximately 5 billion cubic feet for the week ending November 20. That compares with a build of 15 billion cubic feet in the prior week, a withdrawal of 141 billion cubic feet in the same week last year, while the five-year average change for the week is a drawdown of 36 billion cubic feet. If the storage estimate is correct, total U.S. natural gas storage as of last week will total 4.004 trillion cubic feet, a fresh record high. That stockpile level would be 16% above the year-ago level and 6.6% above the five-year average for the same week. Last spring, supplies were 55% below the five-year average, indicating producers have more than made up for all of last winter’s unusually strong demand. Inventories of the gas are typically built up during the warm summer months and then drawn down in the winter as cold temperatures increase demand for the fuel.
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