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Natural gas futures trade near 3-year low on warmer outlook

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Shutterstock photo - - U.S. natural gas prices traded near a three-year low on Monday, amid speculation the end of the winter heating season will bring warmer temperatures throughout the U.S. and cut into demand for the fuel.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas for delivery in May touched an intraday low of $2.476 per million British thermal units, a level not seen since June 2012, before trading at $2.522 during U.S. morning hours, up 1.1 cents, or 0.42%.

On Friday, natural gas prices lost 1.7 cents, or 0.67%, to close at $2.511. Futures were likely to find support at $2.459 per million British thermal units, the low from June 18, 2012, and resistance at $2.646, the high from April 9.

The May natural gas contract plunged 20.2 cents, or 7.45%, last week.

Updated weather forecasting models for the lower 48 U.S. states showed that temperatures will remain near-normal over the next two weeks.

Prices are likely to test new lows in the week ahead as the coldest part of the winter has effectively passed and below-normal temperatures in April mean less than they do in January and February.

Spring usually sees the weakest demand for natural gas in the U.S, as the absence of extreme temperatures curbs demand for heating and air conditioning.

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.

Indications that supplies are more than ample to meet demand also weighed.

Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 1.476 trillion cubic feet as of last week, 79% above year-ago levels and 10.5% 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.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration's next storage report slated for release on Thursday, April 16 is expected to show a build of approximately 26 billion cubic feet for the week ending April 10.

Supplies rose by 22 billion cubic feet in the same week last year, while the five-year average change is an increase of 35 billion cubic feet.

Elsewhere on the Nymex, crude oil for delivery in May rallied 92 cents, or 1.77%, to trade at $52.56 a barrel, while heating oil for May delivery jumped 1.5% to trade at $1.792 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.

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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