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Natural gas drops on first day of spring, soft U.S. stockpile report

CommoditiesMar 20, 2014 01:54PM ET
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This article has already been saved in your Saved Items - Natural gas futures dropped on Thursday, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere, as investors bet seasonably mild weather typical of this time of year will curb demand for both heating and air conditioning across much of the U.S.

Bearish supply data pushed prices lower as well.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas futures for delivery in April traded at $4.365 per million British thermal units during U.S. trading, down 2.67%. The commodity hit session high of $4.474 and a low of $4.350.

The April contract settled up 0.63% on Wednesday to end at $4.484 per million British thermal units.

Natural gas futures were likely to find support at $4.342 per million British thermal units, Friday's low, and resistance at $4.585, Monday's high.

The official arrival of spring sent natural gas prices falling on Thursday.

Updated weather-forecasting models called for cold snap next week though they scaled back the intensity of the cooler weather, while the rest of March and early April should see seasonably mild temperatures.

The heating season from November through March is the peak demand period for U.S. gas consumption. Approximately 52% of U.S. households use natural gas for heating, according to the Energy Department.

A bearish weekly U.S. inventory report dampened prices as well.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas storage in the U.S. in the week ended March 14 fell by 48 billion cubic feet, compared to expectations for a decline of 59 billion cubic feet.

Supplies fell by 74 billion cubic feet in the same week a year earlier while the five-year average change for the week is a drop of 30 billion cubic feet.

Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 953 billion cubic feet, the lowest for this time of year since 2004.

Stocks were 932 billion cubic feet less than last year at this time and 876 billion cubic feet below the five-year average of 1.829 trillion cubic feet for this time of year.

The report showed that in the East Region, stocks were 399 billion cubic feet below the five-year average, following net withdrawals of 35 billion cubic feet.

Stocks in the Producing Region were 351 billion cubic feet below the five-year average of 742 billion cubic feet after a net withdrawal of 11 billion cubic feet.

Elsewhere on the NYMEX, light sweet crude oil futures for delivery in May were down 0.25% and trading at $98.92 a barrel, while heating oil for April delivery were up 0.60% and trading at $2.9183 per gallon.

Natural gas drops on first day of spring, soft U.S. stockpile report

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