U.S. natural gas futures rose by more than 3% on Tuesday as output slows despite a continued decline in demand and exports from milder weather and coronavirus lockdowns.On its second to last day as the front-month, gas futures for June delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 6 cents, or 3.5%, to $1.791 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) at 8:27 a.m. EDT (1227 GMT).
The July contract, which will soon be the front-month, was up 5.4 cents to $1.935 per mmBtu.
Looking ahead, futures for the balance of 2020 and calendar 2021 were trading about 25% and 51% over the front-month, respectively, on expectations the economy will snap back as governments lift travel restrictions. Those bullish forecasts also caused speculators to boost their net long positions last week for a sixth time in seven weeks.
Data provider Refinitiv said average gas output in the U.S. Lower 48 states had fallen to 89.3 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in May, down from an eight-month low of 92.9 bcfd in April and an all-time monthly high of 95.4 bcfd in November.
With the weather expected to turn milder, Refinitiv projected demand in the Lower 48, including exports, would ease from 79.6 bcfd this week to 78.9 bcfd next week. That is lower than Refinitiv’s forecasts on Friday before the long U.S. Memorial Day weekend of 79.7 bcfd this week and 81.4 bcfd next week.
U.S. LNG exports have averaged 6.5 bcfd so far in May, down from a four-month low of 8.1 bcfd in April and a record 8.7 bcfd in February.
Refinitiv said U.S. pipeline exports to Canada averaged 2.2 bcfd so far in May, down from 2.4 bcfd in April and an all-time monthly high of 3.5 bcfd in December. Pipeline exports to Mexico averaged 4.7 bcfd so far this month, the same as in April, down from a record 5.6 bcfd in March.