March 9, 2020 / 12:20 PM / in a month

U.S. natgas futures tumble to lowest since 1998 on oil price collapse

March 9 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures dropped about 5% to their lowest level in over 21 years on Monday as they followed a plunge in oil prices of as much as 34%.

U.S. oil prices lost a third of their value in their biggest daily rout since the 1991 Gulf War after Saudi Arabia signaled it would hike output to win market share even though the coronavirus has already left the market oversupplied.

Even before crude futures collapsed, gas prices had already tumbled to within a nickel of their lowest since August 1998 over the past week as record production and mild weather enabled utilities to leave more gas in storage this winter, making fuel shortages and prices spikes unlikely.

Front-month gas futures for April delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 9.1 cents, or 5.3%, to $1.617 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) at 8:02 a.m. EDT (1202 GMT).

Earlier in the session, gas slid to $1.61, its lowest since August 1998. If prices drop below $1.61, they would fall to their lowest since September 1995.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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