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Natural gas futures edge lower after Tuesday's 5% rally

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Shutterstock photo - - U.S. natural gas prices gave back some of the previous session's 5% gain on Wednesday, as market participants looked ahead to fresh weekly information on U.S. gas inventories.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas for delivery in April shed 2.6 cents, or 0.93%, to trade at $2.829 per million British thermal units during U.S. morning hours.

Futures were likely to find support at $2.680 per million British thermal units, the low from March 16, and resistance at $2.864, the high from March 12.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration's next storage report slated for release on Thursday is expected to show a withdrawal of approximately 51 billion cubic feet for the week ending March 13.

Supplies fell by 69 billion in the same week last year, while the five-year average change is a decline of 45 billion cubic feet.

Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 1.512 trillion cubic feet as of last week, 46.9% above year-earlier levels and 13.0% below the five-year average for this time of year.

Last spring, supplies were 55% below the five-year average, indicating producers have made up for most of last winter's unusually strong demand.

On Tuesday, natural gas for delivery in April surged 13.9 cents, or 5.12%, to settle at $2.855 as a cold blast was expected to hit the U.S. Northeast later this week, boosting near-term demand expectations for the heating fuel.

Updated weather forecasting models showed that a cold front will impact the northern U.S. through March 23, carrying rain and snow, while the rest of the country will enjoy seasonal or higher temperatures.

However, any significant gains were likely to remain in check in the near-term as the coldest part of the winter has effectively passed and below-normal temperatures in March mean less than they do in January and February.

The heating season from November through March is the peak demand period for U.S. gas consumption. Approximately 49% of U.S. households use natural gas for heating, according to the Energy Department.

Elsewhere on the Nymex, crude oil for delivery in May dropped 86 cents, or 1.9%, to trade at $44.33 a barrel, while heating oil for April delivery rose 1.03% to trade at $1.711 per gallon. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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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 Nasdaq, Inc.

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