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NEW YORK: US natural gas futures slipped on Thursday on forecasts for milder weather and lower demand over the next two weeks than previously expected.

Traders noted that that small price decline came ahead of a federal report expected to show last week’s storage build was in line with normal levels for this time of year.

Analysts forecast US utilities added 95 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas into storage during the week ended May 28. That compares with an increase of 103 bcf in the same week last year and a five-year (2016-2020) average increase of 96 bcf.

If correct, last week’s injection would boost stockpiles to 2.310 trillion cubic feet (tcf), or 2.7% below the five-year average of 2.374 tcf for this time of year.

Front-month gas futures fell 3.3 cents, or 1.1%, to $3.042 per million British thermal units at 9:11 a.m. EDT (1311 GMT).

Data provider Refinitiv said gas output in the Lower 48 US states averaged 91.3 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in June, up from 91.0 bcfd in May but still well below the monthly record high of 95.4 bcfd in November 2019.

With warmer weather coming, Refinitiv projected average gas demand, including exports, would rise from 84.2 bcfd this week to 89.0 bcfd next week. Those forecasts were slightly lower than Refinitiv predicted on Wednesday because the latest outlook was for milder weather that will reduce the amount of gas power generators need to burn to keep air conditioners humming.

The amount of gas flowing to US liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plants averaged 10.9 bcfd so far in June, up from 10.8 bcfd in May but below April’s all-time high of 11.5 bcfd.

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