Natural gas futures waver in subdued trade ahead of storage data

Shutterstock photo - - U.S. natural gas prices swung between small gains and losses on Wednesday, as market participants looked ahead to fresh weekly information on U.S. gas inventories to gauge the strength of demand for the heating fuel.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas for delivery in March eased up 0.4 cents, or 0.16%, to trade at $2.764 per million British thermal units during U.S. morning hours.

Futures were likely to find support at $2.656 per million British thermal units, the low from February 13, and resistance at $2.896, the high from February 17.

The Energy Information Administration's storage report slated for release on Thursday is expected to show a withdrawal of 110 billion cubic feet for the week ending February 13.

The five-year average change for the week is a decline of 180 billion cubic feet, while supplies fell by a whopping 247 billion the same time last year.

Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 2.268 trillion cubic feet as of last week, narrowing the deficit to the five-year average for this time of year to just 0.5%.

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

On Tuesday, natural gas prices lost 4.5 cents, or 1.6%, to settle at $2.759 as investors started to focus on the end of the winter heating season.

Updated weather forecasting models predicted that frigid weather spanning from the Great Lakes-region to the Northeast will begin to moderate through February 26.

Bearish speculators are betting on the moderating weather to dampen winter demand for the heating fuel.

The heating season from November through March is the peak demand period for U.S. gas consumption.

Natural gas prices are prone to further losses in the near-term amid speculation supplies are more than ample to meet demand.

Futures are down almost 40% since mid-November as an unusually mild start to winter limited demand while production soared.

Elsewhere on the Nymex, crude oil for delivery in April dropped 72 cents, or 1.33%, to trade at $53.57 a barrel, while heating oil for March delivery slumped 0.5% to trade at $1.967 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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