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NEW YORK, April 2 (Reuters) - Natural gas futures open interest on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) climbed to a record high on Monday for the 11th straight day, according data on the CME Group's website on Tuesday.
The CME owns the NYMEX
Total futures open interest, or the number of longs and shorts outstanding, climbed 18,496 contracts on Monday to a record 1,455,630.
A fairly chilly winter pared gas inventories, which were record high at the start of the heating season, to help drive NYMEX front-month gas futures prices up nearly 30 percent since mid-February. The futures notched a 19-month high of $4.121 per million British thermal units just last week.
The move up has been accompanied by a near steady climb in futures-only open interest, which has gained more than 260,000 lots, or 22 percent, during the period as a late-winter cold snap turned sentiment more bullish and new longs piled in.
Commodity Futures Trading Commision data on Friday showed that money managers, or speculative investment funds, had increased their net-long position in natural gas futures, options and swaps for the sixth straight week.
At 387,686 contracts, it is their largest combined net long holdings in more than three years.
That data includes natural gas swaps held on the IntercontinentalExchange, which did not start reporting gas trader position data to the CFTC until January 2010, according to Reuters data.