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Natural gas futures - Weekly outlook: December 24 - 28

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Investing.com - Investing.com - Natural gas futures ended Friday's session little changed after climbing to an almost two-week high earlier in the day, as market players continued to focus on shifting weather forecasts for the next few weeks to gauge the strength of U.S. heating demand.

Natural gas prices have closely tracked weather forecasts in recent weeks, as traders try to gauge the impact of shifting forecasts on winter heating demand.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas futures for delivery in January eased down 0.1% Friday to settle at USD3.440 per million British thermal units by close of trade.

The January contract touched a high of USD3.505 per million British thermal units earlier Friday, the strongest level since December 10.

On the week, front-month natural gas prices jumped 4%, the first weekly gain in a month.

Natural gas prices rallied nearly 3.5% on Thursday after a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed natural gas supplies fell more-than-expected last week.

The U.S. EIA said in its weekly report that natural gas storage in the U.S. in the week ended December 14 fell by 82 billion cubic feet, compared to expectations for a decline of 72 billion cubic feet.

Inventories fell by 100 billion cubic feet in the same week a year earlier, while the five-year average change for the week is a decline of 144 billion cubic feet.

Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 3.724 trillion cubic feet as of last week, 2% higher than last year's level and 10% above the five-year average for this time of year.

Early withdrawal estimates for this week's storage data range from 66 billion cubic feet to 83 billion cubic feet.

Inventories fell by 87 billion cubic feet in the same week a year earlier, while the five-year average change for the week is a decline of 140 billion cubic feet.

Investors were hesitant to extend the previous day's rally on Friday, after weather service provider MDA Weather said it expected mostly normal weather in the heavily populated U.S. Northeast from December 26 through January 4.

According to AccuWeather, the low temperature in New York on December 30 was expected to be 29 degrees Fahrenheit (2 Celsius), 1 degree higher than usual.

Bearish speculators are betting on the seasonally-normal weather reducing winter demand for the heating fuel. The heating season from November through March is the peak demand period for U.S. gas consumption.

The heating fuel has lost nearly 14% since touching a 14-month high of USD4.001 per million British thermal units on November 26, on speculation that temperatures won't be cold enough to erase a surplus of the fuel in storage.

Elsewhere in the energy complex, light sweet crude oil futures for February delivery settled at USD88.90 a barrel by close of trade on Friday, adding 2.3% on the week.

Meanwhile, heating oil for February delivery rose 0.85% over the week to settle at USD3.010 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 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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