May 21, 2013 / 1:53 PM / in 5 years

UPDATE 3-U.S. natgas futures rise more than 2 pct on warm weather

* Front month still below recent 21-month high
    * Weather forecasts turn warmer for most of nation
    * Nuclear plant outages slip below normal

    By Eileen Houlihan
    NEW YORK, May 21 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures rose
more than 2 percent on Tuesday, extending gains for a third
straight session, as warmer weather blanketing much of the
nation boosted demand for air conditioning.
    "The natural gas rally continued for yet another session,
not a major surge, but a decent three-day rally which is looking
more like new buying is starting to come back into the market
after two weeks in a row of the speculative community reducing
their net natgas long positions," said Energy Management
Institute's Dominick Chirichella.
    The latest NYMEX natural gas open interest data available
showed open interest rose by 4,910 contracts on Monday, the
first gain in 13 sessions.
    Front-month June natural gas futures on the New York
Mercantile Exchange rose 10.2 cents, or nearly 2.5
percent, to settle at $4.192 per million British thermal units. 
    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.
    Other months also rose on Tuesday, but failed to outpace the
front month's gains. Summer months rose less than 10 cents each.
    In the cash market, gas for Wednesday delivery at the NYMEX
benchmark Henry Hub in Louisiana rose 3 cents to
$4.13, with late deals firming to even with the June contract,
from deals done late Monday at a 4-cent discount.
    Gas on the Transco pipeline at the New York citygate rose 9 cents to average $4.46. 
    The latest National Weather Service six to 10-day forecast
issued Monday called for above-normal temperatures for about the
eastern two thirds of the nation and below-normal readings only
on the West coast.
    Nuclear plant outages totaled 15,900 megawatts, or 16
percent of U.S. capacity, down from 16,600 MW out on Monday,
17,300 MW out a year ago and a five-year average outage rate of
16,200 MW. 
    Baker Hughes drilling data last week showed the
gas-directed rig count rose by four from the prior week's
18-year low of 350. 

    Early injection estimates for Thursday's gas storage report
from the U.S. Energy Information Administration range from 85
billion cubic feet to 99 bcf versus a 75-bcf build during the
same week last year and a five-year average rise for that week
of 90 bcf.

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