Investing.com - Natural gas futures were lower for the first time in six days on Wednesday, as investors booked profits from the previous session's rally to a 17-month high while looking ahead to Thursday's closely-watched U.S. supply data.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas futures for delivery in April traded at USD3.924 per million British thermal units during U.S. morning trade, down 1.1% on the day.
Prices fell by as much as 1.9% earlier in the day to hit a session low of USD3.885 per million British thermal units.
Nymex gas prices rose to USD3.975 per million British thermal units on Tuesday, the strongest level since October 2011.
Natural gas prices have risen sharply in recent weeks. The heating fuel has rallied nearly 21% since falling close to a four-month low of USD3.125 per million British thermal units on February 15, boosted by calls for colder temperatures in major consuming regions across the U.S.
Sentiment on the heating fuel remained upbeat after updated weather forecasts released earlier continued to call for below-normal readings for most of the Eastern half of the U.S. in the next six-to-ten days.
Bullish speculators are betting on the cool weather increasing late-winter demand for the heating fuel.
The heating season from November through March is the peak demand period for U.S. gas consumption. Nearly 50% of all U.S. households use gas for heating.
Natural gas traders now looked ahead to a closely-watched U.S. government report on natural gas supplies on Thursday in an attempt to gauge the strength of late-winter heating demand.
Early withdrawal estimates range from 48 billion cubic feet to 73 billion cubic feet. Inventories withdrawals were flat in the same week a year earlier, while the five-year average change for the week is a decline of 26 billion cubic feet.
Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 1.938 trillion cubic feet as of last week, 18.5% below their level this time last year, but still 11.4% above the five-year average.
Elsewhere on the NYMEX, light sweet crude oil futures for delivery in May eased up 0.15% to trade at USD92.67 a barrel, while heating oil for April delivery added 0.35% to trade at USD2.873 per gallon.
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