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US natgas futures rise 2pc to a 1-week high on colder forecasts

  • On its second to last day as the front-month, gas futures for February delivery rose 5.2 cents, or 2.0%, to $2.654 per million British thermal units.
  • At-the-money implied volatility for the futures, a determinant of an option's premium, fell to 45.2%, its lowest since March.
Published January 26, 2021

US natural gas futures rose 2% to a fresh one-week high on Tuesday on forecasts for colder weather and higher heating demand through mid February than earlier expected.

On its second to last day as the front-month, gas futures for February delivery rose 5.2 cents, or 2.0%, to $2.654 per million British thermal units at 8:13 a.m. EST (1313 GMT), putting the contract on track for its highest close since Jan. 15 for a second day in a row.

At-the-money implied volatility for the futures, a determinant of an option's premium, fell to 45.2%, its lowest since March.

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 128.1 bcfd this week to 123.8 bcfd next week. That demand forecast for next week, however, is higher than Refinitiv's outlook on Monday.

The amount of gas flowing to US liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plants averaged 10.4 bcfd so far 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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