NEW YORK (
) -- Natural gas prices turned lower Thursday after a government storage report showed inventory levels rising higher last week.
Natural gas storage levels in the lower 48 states added another 40 billion cubic feet for the week ended Aug. 20, the Energy Information Administration said. The net injection landed around the upper range of expectations, as a survey from Platts showed analysts expected inventories to jump 37 to 41 billion cubic feet.
After trading flat just before the report's release, the most actively traded October delivery contract for natural gas was edging lower by 3 cents at $3.87 per million British thermal units most recently. During the session, the contract also tumbled to its most depressed level of the year, according to
The Associated Press
. A reading from the CME website showed prices reached a low of $3.791 Thursday.
At 3.052 trillion cubic feet, total stocks now stand 6.1% below last year's levels. Still, the report also said storage levels were 6.2% above the five-year average.
Crude oil prices were rising, with several news reports attributing the move to better-than-expected
jobless claims data and a weaker dollar. The October delivery contract was improving 89 cents to $73.41 a barrel, continuing a streak that began Wednesday after
oil broke a five-day losing streak.
Also on the Nymex, the October heating oil contract was gaining almost 4 cents to $2.02 a gallon, while October gasoline was ahead by nearly 4 cents at $1.86 a gallon.
Energy stocks were largely down, with the NYSE Arca Oil index down 0.3% and the Philadelphia Oil Service Sector index weaker by close to 0.1%. But the NYSE Natural Gas index was trading higher by 0.1%.
Elsewhere, Chinese oil conglomerate
, the globe's number two firm based on market cap, said first-half profit jumped 29% from a year earlier to $9.6 billion, the
--Written by Sung Moss in New York.
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