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NEW YORK: US natural gas futures gained 3% on Friday from a three-month low the previous session on forecasts for cooler weather than expected and higher heating demand in the next two weeks, rising liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports and a small fall in output.

But traders said the weather was still expected to remain milder than normal through at least the middle of December, keeping overall heating demand low for this time of year.

Front-month gas futures rose 12.2 cents, or 3.0%, to $4.178 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) at 8:06 a.m. EST (1306 GMT). On Thursday, the contract closed at its lowest since Aug. 25.

For the week, the front-month was still down about 23% after dropping over the past four days, putting the contract on track for its biggest weekly decline since February 2014. Last week, it gained almost 8%.

In recent months, global gas prices hit record highs as utilities around the world scrambled for LNG cargoes to replenish low stockpiles in Europe and meet surging demand in Asia, where energy shortfalls have caused power blackouts in China.

Following those global gas prices, US futures jumped to a 12-year high in early October but have since pulled back because the United States has plenty of gas in storage and ample production for winter. Overseas prices were trading about seven times higher than US futures.

Analysts have said European inventories were about 17% below normal for this time of year, compared with just 2% below normal in the United States.

Data provider Refinitiv said output in the US Lower 48 states averaged 95.9 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in December, down from a monthly record of 96.5 bcfd in November.

Refinitiv projected average US gas demand, including exports, would rise from 112.1 bcfd this week to 113.1 bcfd next week and 117.2 bcfd in two weeks as the weather turns seasonally colder and homes and businesses crank up their heaters. Those forecasts were higher than Refinitiv’s outlook on Thursday.

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