Natural Gas May Advance as Winter Chill Boosts Demand

Natural gas may climb next week as forecasts show below-normal temperatures that would boost demand for the heating fuel, a Bloomberg survey showed.

Eight of 14 analysts, or 57 percent, said futures will rise on the New York Mercantile Exchange through Dec. 28. Five, or 36 percent, said prices will stay the same and one predicted gas will drop. Last week, 44 percent of participants said gas would advance this week.

WSI Corp. in Andover, Massachusetts, predicted colder-than- normal weather in parts of the Midwest from Dec. 25 through Jan. 3. The low in Chicago on Dec. 27 may be 14 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 10 Celsius), 6 lower than usual, according to AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

“A rebound is under way,” Mike Fitzpatrick, editor of the Energy OverView newsletter in New York, said yesterday as snow pelted parts of the U.S. “The stormy weather in the Midwest, with blizzard conditions, reminds us that winter is here.”

Natural gas jumped 13.7 cents, or 4.1 percent, to $3.451 per million Btu this week in New York. Prices are up 15 percent this year, heading for the first annual gain since 2007.

A government report yesterday showed that U.S. stockpiles fell more than expected last week, declining by 82 billion cubic feet to 3.724 trillion. Analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg predicted a withdrawal of 75 billion cubic feet. The five-year average decrease for the period was 144 billion.

The gas survey has correctly forecast the direction of prices 49 percent of the time since its June 2004 introduction.

Bloomberg’s survey of natural-gas analysts and traders asks for an assessment of whether Nymex natural-gas futures will probably rise, fall or remain neutral in the coming week. This week’s results were:

RISE FALL NEUTRAL

8 1 5

To contact the reporter on this story: Christine Buurma in New York at cbuurma1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net

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