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Natural gas futures - Weekly outlook: April 15 - 19

CommoditiesApr 14, 2013 10:43AM ET
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Investing.com - Natural gas futures ended Friday’s session at the highest level since July 2011, as sentiment on the commodity remained upbeat amid receding concerns over U.S. inventory levels.

Prices found further support after industry weather group MDA Federal predicted cold weather in the Northeast and below-normal weather in parts of the Midwest in the coming week.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas futures for delivery in May soared 3% on Friday to settle the week at USD4.261 per million British thermal units by close of trade.

Earlier in the day, Nymex gas prices rose to USD4.263 per million British thermal units, the strongest level since July 28, 2011.

On the week, natural gas prices rallied 2.8%, the eighth consecutive weekly advance.

On Thursday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said that natural gas storage fell by 14 billion cubic feet last week, compared to expectations for a drop of 13 billion cubic feet.

Inventories increased by 11 billion cubic feet in the same week a year earlier, while the five-year average change for the week was a build of 15 billion cubic feet.

Typically this time of year, stockpiles begin to climb as milder spring temperatures curb demand for natural gas.

Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 1.673 trillion cubic feet as of last week, 32.5% lower than last year at this time and 3.8% below the five-year average for this time of year.

Early injection estimates for this week’s storage data range from 16 billion cubic feet to 55 billion cubic feet.

Inventories rose by 21 billion cubic feet in the same week a year earlier, while the five-year average change for the week is a rise of 39 billion cubic feet.

Nymex gas prices have risen sharply in recent weeks, gaining almost 30% since mid-February, boosted by calls for colder temperatures in major consuming regions across the U.S. that helped tighten the market.

Still, some analysts have warned that further gains may be limited with spring's low-demand shoulder season looming.

The heating season from November through March is the peak demand period for U.S. gas consumption. Nearly 50% of all U.S. households use gas for heating.

Gas use typically hits a seasonal low with spring's mild temperatures, before warmer weather increases demand for gas-fired electricity generation to power air conditioning.

Elsewhere in the energy complex, light sweet crude oil futures for May delivery settled at USD90.82 a barrel by close of trade on Friday, losing 2.35% on the week.

Meanwhile, heating oil for May delivery dropped 1.85% over the week to settle at USD2.869 per gallon by close of trade Friday.

Natural gas futures - Weekly outlook: April 15 - 19

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