Earlier in the year, it seemed like natural gas was the commodity with little to no hope, as the fossil fuel posted some impressive losing streaks. But it seems that crude oil is hellbent on taking NG’s place, as WTI futures have slid for six consecutive days, making it the longest losing streak for this commodity in nearly two years. But crude’s rather volatile behavior in the past six months can be attributed to a number of macroeconomic factors pushing and pulling the asset in either direction [see also 25 Ways To Invest In Crude Oil].
As natural gas has continued its massive decline, a number of investors (myself included) have hopped into short positions, allowing most to receive handsome profits in recent weeks. NG futures have been under a fair amount of pressure as this past winter was extremely mild curtailing demand for this commodity. Adding to that, new advancements in fracking have led to even greater supply, depressing prices to levels that none could have predicted. But while a short position in this commodity has yielded strong results, its outlook is beginning to turn sour, as a seasonal trend is threatening natural gas [see also Why You Should Invest In Natural Gas: The Fuel of the Future].
At this point, there isn’t anything new to say about natural gas. Its massive decline has been well documented and it seems that most of the investing world has temporarily lost hope that NG will recover anytime soon. While it is true that recent losses have been attributed to an unseasonably warm winter as well as growing supply, natural gas has been on a slippery slope since the recession began. But despite its losses, it is also widely agreed that this commodity will play an increasing role in out world’s future energy supply, as the fossil fuel is being utilized in a number of new mediums [see also 25 Ways To Invest In Natural Gas].
When it comes to commodity investing and trading, contango is a dirty word. Many investors have given contango a bad name (and rightfully so) as it has the ability to destroy value in an underlying position with the blink of an eye. Now that the ETF universe has rapidly expanded and there are a number of complex products offering exposure to the commodity world, contango has become more prevalent than ever. A number of investors have fallen prey to this phenomenon often without realizing what it was and how it impacted their holdings. Contango is simply a part of the commodity world and is not necessarily a bad thing, as it can create opportunities for profit [see also Understanding Contango: Natural Gas Example].
As gas prices continue to maintain their high levels, consumers are growing tired of surrendering their hard-earned money at the pump. But a break in gasoline prices may not be on the horizon, as the U.S. already pays well below the average of a number of other developed countries around the globe. And if history is any indicator, gas prices will continue to rise until a figure like $9 per gallon is just the norm; it may sound far fetched, but it also doesn’t seem like that long ago that you could get a gallon of gas under $2. With crude oil only slated to get more expensive, it seems that many are turning towards natural gas to be the fuel of the future, as its production and use has been surging in recent years [see also 25 Ways To Invest In Natural Gas].
Of all of the commodities that have experienced a fair amount of volatility as of late, none have fared worse than natural gas. This asset has been one of the more frustrating commodities over the past few years, as it has continually hit new lows while many called it undervalued, only to watch it lob off even more of its price. Already in 2012, NG futures have sank over 27%, and a quick glance at its historical performance reveals a nasty downward trend that has persisting starting with the 2008 recession. These massive losses have burned a number of investors who have sworn off this commodity after buying in at what seemed like lows, only to watch natural gas sink below $5, $4, and finally $3. In fact, NG currently has its sights set on losing grip of the $2 mark [see also 25 Ways To Invest In Natural Gas].
Natural gas continues to be one of the most frustrating commodities for 2012. After seeing prices hit new lows by the day, a number of investors speculated that its price could not possibly get any worse; they were wrong. NG futures are still struggling to establish a healthy trend as prices have dropped more than 17% on the year with over 8% of that coming in the trailing five day period. Low prices can be attributed mainly to this year’s winter, or lack thereof. The winter of 2011-2012 is on pace to be the mildest winter on record, as warmer than average temperatures have slashed demand for gas-powered utilities. This led to high stockpiles which, in turn, slaughtered prices to their current levels [see also 25 Ways To Invest In Natural Gas].