Weather, storm concerns prop up U.S. natural gas futures early
NEW YORK, July 8 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures edged higher early on Monday, underpinned by extended forecasts for warmer weather in the Northeast and Midwest and concerns about a new storm in the western Atlantic Ocean. "Revised weather forecasts indicating slightly warmer temperatures than previously forecast in the Midwest and Northeast during the latter part of July have provided a spark for the market to open the week," Addison Armstrong, senior director of market research at Tradition Energy, said in a report. Despite concerns about Tropical Storm Chantal, traders said early computer runs showed the system steering clear of key Gulf of Mexico gas-producing areas. The storm was seen heading across the northern Caribbean, then turning north toward the east coast of Florida. At 9:20 a.m. EDT (1320 GMT), front-month gas futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange were up 11.4 cents, or 3.2 percent, at $3.731 per million British thermal units, after trading between $3.612 and $3.742. The contract hit a 3-1/2 month low of $3.526 in late June. Heat for the next two weeks remains focused in the West and across northern tier states from the upper Midwest to Northeast, according to forecaster MDA Weather Services. Readings in the Southeast were expected to average below normal. With gas inventories only slightly below average for this time of year and production still flowing at or near a record peak, many traders expect price gains to be limited even if weather forecasts remain fairly supportive. Early injection estimates for Thursday's Energy
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