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NEW YORK: US natural gas futures climbed to a fresh 30-month high on Thursday on expectations soaring global gas prices will boost US exports back to record highs soon.

Traders noted US prices rose despite forecasts for slightly less hot weather and lower demand over the next two weeks than previously expected. The price rise was also ahead of a federal report expected to show last week’s storage build was near normal for this time of year.

Analysts forecast US utilities added 68 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas into storage during the week ended June 25. That compares with an increase of 73 bcf in the same week last year and a five-year (2016-2020) average increase of 65 bcf.

If correct, last week’s injection would boost stockpiles to 2.550 trillion cubic feet (tcf), or 5.6% below the five-year average of 2.701 tcf for this time of year.

Front-month gas futures were up 5.8 cents, or 1.6%, to $3.708 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) at 8:21 a.m. EDT (1221 GMT), putting the contract on track for its highest close since December 2018 for a fourth day in a row

That kept the front-month in overbought territory with a relative strength index (RSI) over 70 for a sixth consecutive day and put the contract up for an eighth day in a row for the first time since March 2017.

Looking ahead, the premium of futures for November over October, which traders use to bet on winter weather, slipped to its lowest since May 2020.

Data provider Refinitiv said gas output in the Lower 48 US states averaged 92.2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in June, up from 91.8 bcfd in May but still well below the monthly record high of 95.4 bcfd in November 2019.

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