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Markets

US natgas futures rise 5pc on colder forecasts, more heating demand

  • After falling for four days in a row, front-month gas futures rose 12.5 cents, or 5.1%, to $2.571 per million British thermal units.
  • Output in the Lower 48 US states averaged 91.2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in January.
25 Jan, 2021

US natural gas futures climbed just over 5% to their highest in a week on Monday on forecasts for colder weather and higher heating demand through early February than earlier expected.

After falling for four days in a row, front-month gas futures rose 12.5 cents, or 5.1%, to $2.571 per million British thermal units at 9:16 a.m. EST (1416 GMT), putting the contract on track for its biggest daily percentage gain since December and its highest close since Jan. 15.

On Friday, the front-month contract closed at its lowest since Dec. 30 for a second day in a row.

Data provider Refinitiv said output in the Lower 48 US states averaged 91.2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in January. That compares with an eight-month high of 91.5 bcfd in December and an all-time monthly high of 95.4 bcfd in November 2019.

Even though the current weather outlook was colder than previously forecast, temperatures next week were still expected to be higher than this week. Refinitiv projected that milder weather would cause average gas demand, including exports, to fall from 128.4 bcfd this week to 122.8 bcfd next week. That demand forecast, however, is higher than Refinitiv's outlook on Friday.

The amount of gas flowing to US liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plants has averaged 10.4 bcfd in January. Traders said that was down from December's 10.7 bcfd monthly record because flows to Cheniere Energy Inc's Sabine Pass plant in Louisiana and Freeport LNG's plant in Texas declined last week due to a combination of fog and pipeline maintenance.

Despite the small decline in LNG exports, buyers around the world continue to purchase near record amounts of US gas because cold weather and LNG supply issues have kept prices in Europe and Asia much higher than in the United States.

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