U.S. natgas futures edge lower ahead of weekly EIA storage data

Thu May 16, 2013 9:21am EDT
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* Front month still well below recent 21-month high
    * Weather forecasts mixed throughout the nation
    * Nuclear power plant outages remain above normal
    * Coming Up: EIA storage data 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT

    By Eileen Houlihan
    NEW YORK, May 16 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures edged
lower early on Thursday, ahead of weekly government inventory
data expected to show a healthy addition to supply and amid
milder, spring weather in much of the nation late this week.
    A long, cold winter put a huge dent in inventories and a
cool spring led to a slow start to the injection season, but
some recent milder weather and two weekly builds that came in
above expectations helped fuel a recent sell off in gas.
    Most traders and analysts expect weekly data from the U.S.
Energy Information Administration to show a build of about 95
billion cubic feet when it is released at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430
GMT), a Reuters poll showed. 
    Stocks rose 56 bcf in the same week last year and on average
over the past five years have gained 83 bcf that week.
    As of 9:12 a.m. EDT (1312 GMT), front-month June natural gas
futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange were at
$4.043 per million British thermal units, down 2.7 cents.
    The nearby contract hit a one-month low of $3.883 last week
after climbing to a 21-month high of $4.444 on May 1.
    The latest National Weather Service six to 10-day forecast
issued on Wednesday again called for above-normal temperatures
in the Northeast and Southwest and below-normal readings along
the Gulf Coast and in most northern-tier states in the Northwest
and Midwest.
    Nuclear plant outages totaled 19,800 megawatts, or 20
percent of U.S. capacity, up from 19,500 MW out on Wednesday,
16,200 MW out a year ago and a five-year average outage rate of
18,500 MW.