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Natural gas futures - weekly outlook: May 12 - 16

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Shutterstock photo - - U.S. natural gas futures ended Friday's session at a three-week low, amid easing concerns over tight supplies.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas for delivery in June fell to $4.498 per million British thermal units on Friday, the lowest since April 17, before subsequently settling at $4.531 by close of trade, down 0.9%, or 4.1 cents.

Natural gas prices plunged 3.54%, or 16.8 cents on Thursday to settle at $4.572 per million British thermal units.

Futures were likely to find support at $4.487 per million British thermal units, the low from April 17 and resistance at $4.754, the high from May 8.

On the week, Nymex natural gas prices lost 2.72%, or 12.7 cents.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report published Thursday that natural gas storage in the U.S. rose by 74 billion cubic feet, above forecasts for an increase of 71 billion cubic feet.

The five-year average change for the week is a build of 72 billion cubic feet.

The government report showed a bigger-than-expected storage build for the third week in a row, helping to ease worries about tight inventories.

Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at an 11-year low of 1.055 trillion cubic feet as of last week. Stocks were 797 billion cubic feet less than last year at this time and 982 billion cubic feet below the five-year average of 2.037 trillion cubic feet for this time of year.

Producers would need to add 2.6 trillion to 2.9 trillion cubic feet to storage by November 1 to meet typical winter demand, analysts said.

Meanwhile, updated weather forecasting models called for warmer-than-average weather over much of the Midwest and Northeast, as well as the South, which was likely to lower heating demand.

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

Approximately 52% of U.S. households use natural gas for heating, according to the Energy Department.

Data from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission released Friday showed that hedge funds and money managers decreased their bullish bets in natural gas futures in the week ending May 6.

Net longs totaled 109,334 contracts, down 3.4% from net longs of 113,192 in the previous week.

Elsewhere in the energy complex, U.S. crude oil for June delivery settled at $99.99 a barrel by close of trade on Friday, down 0.23%, or 23 cents a barrel, on the week.

Meanwhile, heating oil for June delivery lost 0.51% on the week to settle at $2.908 per gallon by close of trade Friday. 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.

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