Natural gas futures waver as traders weigh shifting weather forecasts
© Reuters. Natural gas fluctuates as traders monitor shifting weather forecastsInvesting.com - U.S. natural gas prices swung between gains and losses in choppy trade on Wednesday, as market players continued to assess the outlook for U.S. demand and supply levels.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas for delivery in February tacked on 2.4 cents, or 0.82%, to trade at $2.962 per million British thermal units during U.S. morning hours. Prices traded in a range between $2.913 and $2.989.
A day earlier, natural gas rallied 5.6 cents, or 1.94%, to settle at $2.938.
Futures were likely to find support at $2.805 per million British thermal units, the low from January 2, and resistance at $3.176, the high from January 5.
Updated weather forecast models continued to call for frigid temperatures in the key Northeast and Midwest markets in the next three-to-five days, boosting near-term demand expectations for the heating fuel.
However, extended forecasts showed higher readings were expected for most of the nation from January 16 through January 20.
Natural gas prices have closely tracked weather forecasts in recent weeks, as traders try to gauge the impact of shifting forecasts on winter heating demand.
The heating season from November through March is the peak demand period for U.S. gas consumption.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Energy Information Administration's weekly storage report slated for release on Thursday is expected to show a drop of 133 billion cubic feet for the week ending January 2.
Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 3.220 trillion cubic feet, 2.5% below year-ago levels and 7.8% below the five-year average for this time of year.
Elsewhere on the Nymex, crude oil for delivery in February jumped 77 cents, or 1.61%, to trade at $48.70 a barrel, while heating oil for February delivery slumped 1.24% to trade at $1.706 per gallon.