Natural gas futures rallied to the highest level since July 2011 on Monday, as updated weather forecasting models pointed to colder-than-average temperatures across most parts of the U.S. east coast in the coming week.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas futures for delivery in February traded at USD4.544 per million British thermal units during U.S. morning trade, up 1.7%. Nymex January gas futures rose by as much as 3.35% earlier in the day to hit a session high of USD4.577, the strongest level since July 21, 2011.
Natural gas futures were likely to find support at USD4.447 per million British thermal units, the low from December 20 and resistance at USD4.594, the high from July 21, 2011. The February contract settled down 0.49% on Friday to end at USD4.467 per million British thermal units.
Updated weather forecasting models called for frigid temperatures across the East Coast of the U.S. from December 25 to January 3, with continued cold expected across most of the nation in the next six- to-ten days.
Bullish speculators are betting that colder weather will increase demand for the heating fuel. The heating season from November through March is the peak demand period for U.S. gas consumption.
Meanwhile, U.S. supply levels remained in focus. Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 3.248 trillion cubic feet as of last week, more than 13% below last year''s unusually high level and nearly 7% below the five-year average for this time of year.
Early withdrawal estimates for this week’s storage data range from 135 billion cubic feet to 177 billion cubic feet, compared to a drop of 74 billion cubic feet during the same week a year earlier.
The five-year average change for the week is a decline of 125 billion cubic feet.
Supplies fell by 285 billion cubic feet last week, the biggest weekly withdrawal on record.
Elsewhere on the NYMEX, light sweet crude oil futures for delivery in February dipped 0.3% to trade at USD99.00 a barrel, while heating oil for January delivery shed 0.2% to trade at USD3.072 per gallon.
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