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

Thu May 30, 2013 9:29am EDT
 
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* New front month still below recent 21-month high
    * Above-normal temperatures on tap but not extreme heat
    * Nuclear power plant outages back below normal
    * Coming Up: EIA natgas storage data on Thursday

    By Eileen Houlihan
    NEW YORK, May 30 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures edged
lower early Thursday, extending losses for a fourth straight
session ahead of weekly government storage data expected to show
a healthy build to inventories.
    In addition, traders said despite above-normal temperatures
on tap for much of the nation in the coming days and weeks, it
was not likely to be hot enough to spark heavy cooling loads
yet.
    Most traders and analysts expect weekly data from the U.S.
Energy Information Administration to show a build of about 88
billion cubic feet when it is released at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430
GMT), a Reuters poll showed. 
    Stocks rose an adjusted 72 bcf in the same year-ago week,
and on average over the past five years have gained 92 bcf that
week. The EIA will release its gas storage data for the week
that ended May 24 at its usual time despite Monday's U.S.
Memorial Day holiday.

    As of 9:13 a.m. EDT (1313 GMT), new front-month July natural
gas futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange were at
$4.142 per million British thermal units, down 4.2 cents, or
about 1 percent.
    The spot 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 Wednesday called for above-normal temperatures in the
western third of the nation, in the Northeast and much of the
Midwest, and mainly normal readings elsewhere throughout the
country.
    Nuclear plant outages totaled 13,600 megawatts, or 16
percent of U.S. capacity, down from 15,700 MW out on Wednesday,
17,400 MW out a year ago and a five-year average outage rate of
14,400 MW.