Natural gas futures swung between small gains and losses on Wednesday, as market players continued to focus on near-term weather forecasts in the U.S. and Thursday’s closely-watched weekly supply data.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas futures for delivery in February traded at USD4.318 per million British thermal units during U.S. morning trade, up 0.4%. Nymex February gas futures held in a range between USD4.275 and USD4.365.
The February contract settled 0.16% lower on Tuesday to end at USD4.299 per million British thermal units. Natural gas futures were likely to find support at USD4.208 per million British thermal units, the low from January 3 and resistance at USD4.428, the high from January 7.
Updated weather forecasting models called for frigid temperatures to give way to a thawing trend across a good portion of the eastern U.S. in the coming week. By Saturday a high of 51 degrees Fahrenheit was expected in New York according to weather service provider AccuWeather.com.
Bearish speculators are betting that the mild weather will decrease demand for the heating fuel. The heating season from November through March is the peak demand period for U.S. gas consumption.
Losses were limited amid speculation this week’s supply data will show a larger-than-average drawdown in U.S. gas storage.
Early withdrawal estimates for Thursday’s storage report range from 140 billion cubic feet to 230 billion cubic feet, compared to a drop of 191 billion cubic feet during the same week a year earlier. The five-year average change for the week is a decline of 131 billion cubic feet.
Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 3.071 trillion cubic feet as of last week, approximately 16% below last year''s unusually high level and nearly 9% below the five-year average for this time of year.
Elsewhere on the NYMEX, light sweet crude oil futures for delivery in February dipped 0.05% to trade at USD93.64 a barrel, while heating oil for February delivery was flat to trade at USD2.959 per gallon.
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