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US natgas futures down 4pc

gasNEW YORK: US natural gas futures slid about 4 percent early on Wednesday, but recovered from a steep drop in overnight electronic trade that brought the front month contract to its lowest mark in over three months.


Most traders attributed the more than 30-cent, 9-percent trading range to an algorithmic, or electronic computer-driven trade.


But most expect little upside to prices, with long-term weather outlooks still calling for above-normal temperatures for much of the nation, curbing heating needs and lessening demand for gas in winter storage.


As of 9:12 a.m. EST (1412 GMT), front-month February gas futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange were at $3.21 per million British thermal units, down 14.1 cents, or more than 4 percent.


The front-month contract fell as low as $3.05 overnight, a contract low and the lowest mark for a spot contract since late September.


The latest National Weather Service six-to-10-day forecast, issued on Tuesday, called for above-normal temperatures for a little more than the eastern half of the nation, with below-normal readings in the West.


Nuclear outages totaled just 8,500 megawatts, or 8 percent of US capacity, up from 6,400 MW out a year ago and a five-year average outage rate of about 5,000 MW.


Center>Copyright Reuters, 2013


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