Weather, storm concerns prop up U.S. natural gas futures early

Mon Jul 8, 2013 9:31am EDT
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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
    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