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Markets

US natural gas futures fall over 5pc on milder forecasts

  • That decline came despite near record liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports as global gas prices remain near their highest in years.
  • Front-month gas futures fell 14.6 cents, or 5.3%, to $2.591 per million British thermal units.
19 Jan, 2021

US natural gas futures fell over 5% to a two-week low on Tuesday on forecasts for milder weather and lower heating demand through the end of January than previously expected.

That decline came despite near record liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports as global gas prices remain near their highest in years.

Front-month gas futures fell 14.6 cents, or 5.3%, to $2.591 per million British thermal units at 8:37 a.m. EST (1337 GMT), putting the contract on track for its lowest close since Jan. 4.

Speculators, meanwhile, boosted their net long positions last week on the New York Mercantile and Intercontinental Exchanges for a second week in a row to the highest since early December because the forecasts then were still calling for much colder weather in late January.

Data provider Refinitiv said output in the Lower 48 US states averaged 91.3 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in January. That compares with an eight-month high of 91.5 bcfd in December and the all-time monthly high of 95.4 bcfd in November 2019.

Even though the weather is expected to be less cold next week than previously forecast, temperatures are still expected to be lower than this week. Refinitiv projected average gas demand, including exports, will rise from 119.9 bcfd this week to 125.9 bcfd next week. Next week's forecast, however, is well below Refinitiv's 133.3 bcfd outlook on Friday before the long US Martin Luther King Jr holiday weekend due to the milder weather.

The amount of gas flowing to US LNG export plants averaged 10.6 bcfd so far in January, just shy of December's 10.7-bcfd monthly record.

Those exports came as global futures held near last week's highs when gas in Asia rose to an all-time high and Europe hit its highest since October 2018 due to extreme cold in both regions and numerous LNG supply issues.

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