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NEW YORK: US natural gas futures fell over 3% on Thursday following the release of a report that showed hot weather last week was not enough to cut the storage build below normal levels, meaning it was only enough to offset demand destruction from the coronavirus. Analysts also noted that with prices trading near an eight-month high over the past week, it made economic sense for some generators to burn more coal and less gas to produce electricity.

Thursday's price drop came despite a rise in liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports and forecasts for more hot weather and air conditioning demand through early September than earlier expected. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said US utilities injected 43 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas into storage in the week ended Aug. 14.

That matched analysts estimates in a Reuters poll and compares with an increase of 56 bcf during the same week last year and a five-year (2015-19) average build of 44 bcf. Front-month gas futures fell 7.4 cents, or 3.1%, to settle at $2.352 per million British thermal units. On Wednesday, the contract closed at its highest since December 5.

Although US, European and Asian gas contracts mostly trade on their own fundamentals, a 56% jump in prices at the Netherlands Title Transfer Facility (TTF) in Europe and a 60% increase at the Japan-Korea Marker (JKM) in Asia so far in August made US LNG more attractive in global markets, which helped pull US gas futures up about 34% this month.