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LONDON: European natural gas prices climbed Thursday towards a record peak on heightened fears over Russian supplies, while global equities rose on the eve of a key speech from Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell.

Europe’s benchmark Dutch TTF gas contract advanced to 318 euros per megawatt hour before paring gains.

That was not far from the record high 345 euros struck in March shortly after key gas producer Russia invaded Ukraine.

Prices have spiked in recent days as a three-day halt in Russian deliveries to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline approaches.

At the same time, one-year forward contracts for electricity prices in both France and Germany surged on Thursday to record pinnacles on worries over a winter energy crunch.

“Gas is on a seemingly unstoppable march upwards again, a dramatic move which will intensify the energy crisis,” said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Susannah Streeter.

“Already plans are being brought in to save energy which will darken streets across Germany and make public buildings colder, but much tougher measures may have to be enforced given dwindling gas reserves.”

In stock market trade, European equities pushed higher mirroring Asian gains.

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