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CHICAGO: US natural gas futures jumped over 5 percent to a three-month high on Monday on forecasts for warmer weather over the next two weeks that is expected to prompt power generators to burn more gas to meet rising air conditioning use.

Traders noted that was the biggest daily percentage gain since the Texas freeze in mid February. They noted the price gain came despite a slow but steady increase in production and small declines in exports this month even though gas prices in Europe and Asia were soaring.

Front-month gas futures rose 16 cents, or 5.4percent, to $3.121 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) at 9:22 a.m. EDT (1322 GMT), putting the contract on track for its highest close since Feb. 17.

Speculators, meanwhile, boosted their net long gas futures and options positions on the New York Mercantile and Intercontinental Exchanges for a second week in a row last week to their highest since early March. They were acting on expectations US prices would rise as exports return to record highs with gas prices in Europe near their highest since 2018 and Asia over $10 per mmBtu.

Data provider Refinitiv said gas output in the Lower 48 US states averaged 90.9 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in May, up from 90.6 bcfd in April, but still well below November 2019’s monthly record of 95.4 bcfd.

With the weather warming, Refinitiv projected average gas demand, including exports, would rise from 82.4 bcfd this week to 85.8 bcfd next week as power generators burn more of the fuel to meet rising air conditioning use. Those forecasts were higher than Refinitiv projected on Friday.

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