Natural gas futures prices are sputtering lower on Thursday after higher-than-expected weekly storage data hit the markets, while news on a deal from OPEC added a spark to crude oil futures.
The December contract in natural gas futures was down .38 percent to 3.187 in mid-day trading.
Weekly inventory levels for natural gas were 3,600 billion cubic feet as of Friday, September 23, 2016, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), a net increase of 49 Bcf from the previous week. The U.S. EIA was expected to report a rise of 57 billion cubic feet of gas, according to estimates.
Meanwhile the remainder of the energy futures sector reacted to the announcement that OPEC reached a deal to cut production starting in November. U.S. crude oil futures prices soared after the deal and reached a high of 48.03 on Thursday morning, with the December contract last settling .36 percent higher at 47.82.
Commodities futures markets participants had a slew of data to comprehend on Thursday. In the U.S. economic data, the third estimate of second-quarter gross domestic product grew by 1.4 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, up from last month's estimate of a 1.1 percent growth rate during the spring. Economists had expected revised GDP growth at a 1.3 percent pace for the April to June period.
Jobless Claims rose 3,000 to 254,000 in the latest week, lower than most economists’ forecasts of 260,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, ticked down to 256,000, the same reading as 43-year low first reached in April and a sign of a healthy job market.
Pending Home Sales for August fell by 2.4 percent, compared to expectations of a rise of 0.7 percent for the month and July’s reading of 1.2 percent, according to a monthly index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Pending Home Sales are now down 0.2 percent compared to August of 2015. The slowdown in sales is mostly due to insufficient supply and rising prices of homes on the market, according to analysts.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks today at 3 p.m. CST. Her remarks will be closely monitored by commodities futures traders for cues to future interest rate moves. Among other comments, Yellen has said the Federal Reserve is considering stress tests requiring more capital from the country's biggest banks.