Natural gas futures - weekly outlook: February 17 - 21

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Investing.com - U.S. natural gas futures rose to a one-week high on Friday before turning lower as a break in the cold to milder weather prompted investors to cash out of the market to lock in gains.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas futures for delivery in March rose to a session high of USD5.389 per million British thermal units, the most since February 6, before erasing gains to settle at USD5.214, down 0.17%.

The March contract soared 8.32% on Thursday to settle at USD5.223 per million British thermal units.

Natural gas futures were likely to find support at USD4.818 per million British thermal units, the low from February 13 and resistance at USD5.389, the high from February 14.

On the week, Nymex natural gas prices surged 8.41%, the first weekly gain in three weeks.

Natural gas futures were pressured on Friday after updated weather forecasting models pointed to moderating temperatures that would curb demand for the heating fuel.

Temperatures are expected to warm following the arctic chill that settled through most of the nation during the first half of February.

The heating season from November through March is the peak demand period for U.S. gas consumption. Approximately 52% of U.S. households use natural gas for heating, according to the Energy Department.

Prices rallied on Thursday after the U.S. Energy Information Administration said that natural gas supplies dropped by 237 billion cubic feet last week, compared to expectations for a decline of 233 billion cubic feet.

Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 1.686 trillion cubic feet as of last week, the lowest for this time of year since 2004.

Natural-gas inventories have fallen sharply since November as frigid winter temperatures in the U.S. led households to burn a higher than normal amount of the fuel in furnaces to heat their homes.

Early withdrawal estimates for this week's storage data range from 212 billion cubic feet to 240 billion cubic feet.

Data from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission released Friday showed that hedge funds and money managers increased their bullish bets in natural gas futures in the week ending February 11.

Net longs totaled 163,943 contracts, up 7.6% from net longs of 151,338 in the previous week.

Elsewhere in the energy complex, light sweet crude oil futures for April delivery settled at USD100.13 a barrel by close of trade on Friday, up 0.24% on the week.

Meanwhile, heating oil for March delivery picked up 0.74% on the week to settle at USD3.071 per gallon by close of trade Friday.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Investing , Forex and Currencies

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