August 5, 2013 / 3:53 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 3-U.S. natgas futures end down 1 pct, near five-month low

* Below-seasonal temperatures in Northeast and Midwest
    * Nuclear plant outages also below normal
    * No tropical storms expected this week - NHC

 (Updates prices to settlement)
    By Eileen Houlihan
    NEW YORK, Aug 5 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures slid
nearly 1 percent on Monday to settle near their lowest level in
just over five months.
    Traders said mild weather has curbed summer cooling demand
in consuming regions in the Northeast and Midwest, while a quiet
tropical storm front and below-normal nuclear power plant
outages added more weight to the downside.
    But some said the market might be oversold after losing
nearly 6 percent last week and more than 6 percent the prior
week, the biggest two-week slide in 13 months.
    In addition, they said some heat in the South could stir up
demand in that region.
    "The natural gas market is quiet on somewhat mixed weather
indications. Prices may be stretching to feel for a bottom, but
may not have arrived at one yet," said Citi Futures energy
analyst, Tim Evans.
    Front-month September natural gas futures on the New York
Mercantile Exchange slid 2.8 cents, or just under 1
percent, to settle at $3.319 per million British thermal units.
    The nearby contract traded as low as $3.309, the lowest mark
for a spot contract since late February, according to Reuters
data.
    In the cash market, gas for Tuesday delivery at the NYMEX
benchmark, Henry Hub NG-W-HH in Louisiana, slid 6 cents to a
fresh five-month low of $3.33. Late deals were done at 3 cents
under the front-month contract, compared with those done late
Friday at a 3-cent premium.
    Gas on the Transco pipeline at the New York citygate
NG-NYCZ6, however, rose 11 cents to $3.34.
    The latest National Weather Service six-to-10-day forecast
issued on Sunday called for below-normal temperatures in the
Northeast and Midwest and along a slight area of the West Coast,
with above-normal readings across the South and other parts of
the West.
    Last week's U.S. Energy Information Administration gas
storage report showed total domestic inventories rose by 59
billion cubic feet in the prior week to 2.845 trillion cubic
feet, about 12 percent below last year's record-high level, but
only 1 percent below the five-year average.  
    
    Early injection estimates for this week's EIA storage report
range from 60 bcf to 74 bcf versus a year-ago build of 25 bcf
and a five-year average gain of 42 bcf for that week.
    Nuclear plant outages totaled nearly 4,000 megawatts, or 4
percent of U.S. capacity, down from 4,500 MW out on Friday,
6,800 MW out a year ago, and a five-year average outage rate of
4,600 MW. 
    The U.S. National Hurricane Center said no tropical cyclones
were expected during the next five days.

 (Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Grant McCool and Jim Marshall)

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