Investing.com - U.S. natural gas futures edged modestly higher on Friday, but prices held close to 17-year lows as forecasts calling for more warmth in the U.S. northeast over the next two weeks weighed.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas for delivery in April inched up 0.6 cents, or 0.34%, to close the week at $1.791 per million British thermal units. Prices fell to $1.711 on Thursday, the lowest level since 1999, as the contract for March delivery expired.
For the week, natural gas futures lost 7.6 cents, or 4.07%, the fourth straight weekly decline, as a widening supply glut and expectations of mild demand weighed.
Natural gas prices tumbled on Thursday after the U.S. Energy Information Administration said that natural gas storage in the U.S. fell by 117 billion cubic feet, much less than expectations for a decline of 139 billion.
That compares with draws of 158 billion cubic feet in the prior week, 220 billion cubic feet in the same week last year and a five-year average of around 137 billion.
Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 2.584 trillion cubic feet, 23.8% higher than levels at this time a year ago and 22.4% above the five-year average for this time of year.
Some market experts worry there may be too much gas left in storage at the end of March when utilities traditionally start injecting the fuel back into storage for the next winter.
The EIA's next storage report is due on Thursday, March 3. Inventories fell by 198 billion cubic feet in the same week last year, while the five-year average change for the week is a drawdown of 138 billion cubic feet.
Natural gas futures are down nearly 24% so far this year as a warmer-than-normal winter due to the El Niño weather pattern has limited the amount of heating days and reduced demand for the fuel.
Elsewhere on the Nymex, crude oil for April delivery settled at $32.78 a barrel by close of trade on Friday, up $1.03, or 3.14%, on the week, while heating oil for April delivery rose 2.51% on the week to settle at $1.051 per gallon.
Investing.com offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.
Read more News on Investing.com and download the new Investing.com apps for Android and iOS! http://glocdn.investing.com/news/LYNXMPEB3D0AS_M.jpg