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Natural gas trades at 1-year high on improved demand outlook

CommoditiesNov 22, 2012 10:27AM ET
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Investing.com - Natural gas futures hit a fresh one-year high in thin, holiday trade during U.S. morning hours on Thursday, as the previous day’s bullish storage data continued to support prices.

The EIA data was released a day early due to Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas futures for delivery in December traded at USD3.913 per million British thermal units during U.S. morning trade, climbing 2.1%.       

Prices rose by as much as 2.35% earlier in the day to hit a session high of USD3.925 per million British thermal units, the strongest level since November 1, 2011.

Trade volumes were expected to remain light on Thursday, with NYMEX floor trading scheduled to remain closed. An abbreviated session was slated for Friday.

Wednesday’s U.S. Energy Information Administration’s weekly supply report showed the second consecutive withdrawal of the winter heating season, signaling increasing demand for the fuel.

The EIA said that natural gas storage in the U.S. fell by 38 billion cubic feet, compared to expectations for drop of 27 billion cubic feet.  

Inventories rose by 20 billion cubic feet in the same week a year earlier, while the five-year average change for the week is an increase of 3 billion cubic feet.

Total U.S. gas supplies stood at 3.873 trillion cubic feet. Stocks are 0.6% above year-ago levels and 4.5% above the five-year average for the week.

In March, after an exceptionally warm winter, stockpiles were approximately 60% above five-year levels.

Meanwhile, updated weather forecasts showed that colder-than-normal temperatures were expected to descend on the U.S. East Coast from November 26 through November 30.

Weather service provider AccuWeather said that temperatures in New York on November 30 could fall to as low as 27 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 3 Celsius), 10 below the usual reading.

Bullish speculators are betting on the colder weather increasing early-winter demand for the heating fuel. The heating season from November through March is the peak demand period for U.S. gas consumption.

Elsewhere on the NYMEX, light sweet crude oil futures for delivery in January added 0.55% to trade at USD87.22 a barrel, while heating oil for December delivery rose 0.9% to trade at USD3.066 per gallon.

Natural gas trades at 1-year high on improved demand outlook

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