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Natural Gas Rises As Prices Look to Spark Rally Ahead of Cold Weather Spell

December 5, 2019 at 16:34 by Andrew Moran

Natural gas futures are rising on Thursday after the US government reported the third consecutive weekly decline in inventories. Despite its double-digit decline over the last month, natural gas could spark a year-end rally as a cold-weather spell is expected to ignite demand across the US.

January natural gas futures rose $0.047, or 1.96%, to $2.445 per million British thermal units (btu) at 15:19 GMT on Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The energy commodity has cratered nearly 50% over the last 12 months, and it posted a 12% drop in the last month. Natural gas prices are on track for a weekly loss of about 2%.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), domestic inventories fell by 19 billion cubic feet for the week ending November 29. The median estimate was 21 billion cubic feet. This represents the third straight weekly drop in US supplies. In total, stockpiles stand at 3.591 trillion cubic feet, up 591 billion cubic feet from the same time a year ago. They are also nine billion cubic feet below the five-year average.

The latest weather forecasts suggest that below-average temperatures could cripple the Midwest and two-thirds of the east coast over the next two weeks. Market observers anticipate that this could significantly boost energy demand for more than 100 million Americans, which would be good news for natural gas prices.

Last week, investors were expecting weather conditions to moderate and cause temperatures to be at seasonal norms. Because of the anticipated moderate temperatures, analysts were forecasting prices to slide to multi-year lows by March.

In other energy commodities, January West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures jumped $0.30, or 0.51%, to $58.73 per barrel. February Brent crude futures tacked on $0.53, or 0.84%, to $63.53 a barrel. January gasoline futures surged $0.0175, or 1.09%, to $1.625 per gallon. January heating oil futures jumped $0.01, or 0.5%, to $1.933 per gallon.

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