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Natural gas futures - Weekly outlook: July 22 - 26

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Shutterstock photo - Natural gas futures edged lower on Friday, as some investors cashed out of the market to lock in gains from the previous session's 5% rally that took prices to a four-week high.

Updated weather forecasts showing that a heat wave in the U.S. Northeast and Midwest was expected to give way to below-normal temperatures this week also weighed.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas futures for delivery in August fell 1.1% on Friday to settle the week at USD3.771 per million British thermal units.

Despite Friday's downbeat performance, natural gas prices rose 3.45% on the week, the third consecutive weekly advance.

Nymex gas futures surged 5.1% on Thursday to hit a four-week high of USD3.814 per million British thermal units, following the release of bullish U.S. supply data.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas storage in the U.S. rose by 58 billion cubic feet last week, below market expectations for an increase of 64 billion cubic feet.

Inventories rose by 29 billion cubic feet in the same week a year earlier, while the five-year average change for the week is a build of 70 billion cubic feet.

Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 2.745 trillion cubic feet as of last week, 1.2% below the five-year average and 13% below last year's level.

Early injection estimates for this week's storage data range from 45 billion cubic feet to 60 billion cubic feet, compared to a 26 billion cubic feet increase during the same week a year earlier.

The five-year average for the week is a build of 53 billion cubic feet.

Meanwhile, market players continued to focus on near-term weather forecasts to gauge the strength of demand for the fuel.

Updated weather forecasting models released Friday pointed to milder weather temperatures across most parts of the U.S. Northeast and Midwest for the rest of July.

The U.S. National Weather Service pointed to below-normal temperatures covering the heavily populated Northeast and Midwest regions over the next six to 14 days.

Mild summer temperatures reduce the need for gas-fired electricity to cool homes.

Elsewhere in the energy complex, light sweet crude oil futures for September delivery settled at USD108.23 a barrel by close of trade on Friday, adding 2.1% on the week.

Meanwhile, heating oil for August delivery tacked on 2% over the week to settle at USD3.095 per gallon by close of trade Friday. - offers an extensive set of professional tools for the Forex, Commodities, Futures and the Stock Market including real-time data streaming, a comprehensive economic calendar, as well as financial news and technical & fundamental analysis by in-house experts.

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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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