U.S. natgas futures up 2 pct on warmer weather outlook

Mon May 20, 2013 9:28am EDT
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* Front month still below recent 21-month high
    * Weather forecasts turning warmer for most of nation

    By Eileen Houlihan
    NEW YORK, May 20 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures rose
more than 2 percent early on Monday as the return of weekday
industrial demand brought with it warmer weather forecasts for
the rest of the month.
    Futures extended Friday's big gains, which came after the
Obama administration approved unrestricted natural gas exports
from Freeport LNG's Texas terminal, the first liquefied natural
gas project to be approved since the start of a heated debate
over how best to benefit from the shale boom. 
    As of 9:20 a.m. EDT (1320 GMT), front-month June natural gas
futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange were at
$4.149 per million British thermal units, up 9.4 cents, or more
than 2 percent.
    The nearby contract hit a one-month low of $3.883 on May 9
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 Sunday, called for a large swath of above-normal
temperatures across the mid-Continent, with below-normal
readings only on the East and West coasts.
    Baker Hughes drilling rig data on Friday showed the
gas-directed rig count rose by four from the prior week's
18-year low of 350.