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U.S. natgas futures edge higher ahead of weekly storage data
January 10, 2013 / 2:32 PM / 5 years ago

U.S. natgas futures edge higher ahead of weekly storage data

* Front month remains above last week's 3-month spot low
    * Cold weather still expected in some long-term outlooks
    * Coming Up: EIA natgas storage data Thursday

    By Eileen Houlihan
    NEW YORK, Jan 10 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures edged
higher early on Thursday, before  weekly government storage data
expected to show a large withdrawal from winter inventories.
    In addition, cold weather remained in the longer-term
forecasts despite mild near-term weather that has curbed heating
demand in consuming regions.
    Most traders and analysts expect weekly data from the U.S.
Energy Information Administration to show a draw of about 186
billion cubic feet when it is released at 10:30 a.m. EST (1530
GMT), a Reuters poll showed. 
    Last year stocks fell 95 bcf in the same week and on average
over the past five years have fallen about 149 bcf that week.
    As of 9:24 a.m. EST (1424 GMT), front-month February gas
futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange were at
$3.133 per million British thermal units, up 2 cents, or less
than 1 percent.
    The front-month contract fell to $3.05 last week, a contract
low and the lowest mark for a spot contract since late
    The latest National Weather Service six-to-10-day forecast
issued on Wednesday called for below-normal temperatures for a
little more than the western half of the United States and
mostly normal readings in the East.
    Nuclear outages totaled 8,200 megawatts, or 8 percent, of
U.S. capacity, down slightly from 8,500 MW on Wednesday, but up
from 7,900 MW out a year ago and a five-year average outage rate
of about 6,200 MW. 
    Last week's EIA gas storage report showed inventories fell
the prior week by 135 bcf, above industry expectations for a 127
bcf draw. 
    Despite the big draw, storage remains at 3.517 trillion
cubic feet, nearly 1 percent above year-ago levels and more than
12 percent above the five-year average level.
    (Storage graphic:
    Inventories started the heating season in early November at
a record high 3.929 tcf, the fourth straight year that
inventories have headed into the heating season at an all-time
    Baker Hughes data last week showed the gas-directed rig
count rose by eight to 439, its third straight weekly gain.
    But drilling for natural gas has mostly declined for more
than a year, with gas rigs down 53 percent since peaking at 936
in October 2011.
    (Rig graphic:
    The EIA this week said it expects gas output in 2013 to rise
to a record high of 69.84 bcf per day, the third straight annual

 (Editing by Grant McCool)

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