Fitch believes that the ongoing low natural gas prices in the U.S. continue to have a positive effect on many issuers, particularly in energy-intensive manufacturing sectors like refining, chemicals, and fertilizers.
However, low natural gas prices have pressured electrical utilities and others that depend on the sale of excess power and continue to put pressure on exploration and production companies with significant spot exposure to North American natural gas.
Surging domestic oil and gas output has been beneficial from a macroeconomic perspective. The December U.S. trade deficit narrowed by 20.7% ($38.5 billion) largely based on an all-time record export of petroleum products and the smallest amount of oil imported in 16 years. Over the near term, we believe this export activity will continue.