Investing.com - Natural gas futures fluctuated between small gains and losses near the lowest level in nearly four months on Monday, as market players focused on near-term weather forecasts to gauge the strength of demand for the fuel.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas futures for delivery in August traded at USD3.569 per million British thermal units during U.S. morning trade, up 0.1% on the day.
The August contract held in a range between USD3.607 per million British thermal units, the daily high and a session low of USD3.532 per million British thermal units.
Nymex gas prices fell to USD3.528 per million British thermal units on Friday, the weakest level since March 7, as expectations for reduced demand weighed.
The commodity is now down nearly 20% from a recent peak of USD4.439 per million British thermal units hit on May 1, meeting the definition of a bear market.
Weather forecasting models pointed to warmer than normal temperatures across the western part of the U.S. over the next five days, while mild weather was expected across most of the Northeastern states.
The U.S. Northeast is a key gas-cooling area. Mild summer temperatures reduce the need for gas-fired electricity to cool homes, dampening demand for natural gas.
Meanwhile, sentiment on the commodity remained downbeat following last week's bearish U.S. supply report, which showed that natural gas storage in the U.S. rose by 95 billion cubic feet, above market expectations for an increase of 88 billion.
Inventories rose by 58 billion cubic feet in the same week a year earlier, while the five-year average change for the week is a rise of 79 billion cubic feet.
Total U.S. natural gas storage stood 2.533 trillion cubic feet as of last week, just 1.2% below the five-year average for this time of year.
Early injection estimates for this week's storage data range from 51 billion cubic feet to 75 billion cubic feet, compared to a 41 billion cubic feet increase during the same week a year earlier.
The five-year average for the week is a build of 71 billion cubic feet.
The EIA has reported above-average injections in six of the past eight weeks, underlining the view that demand for the fuel is weakening.
Elsewhere on the NYMEX, light sweet crude oil futures for delivery in August rallied 1.35% to trade at USD97.85 a barrel, while heating oil for August delivery climbed 1.2% to trade at USD2.892 per gallon.
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