Natural Gas Futures Fluctuate Amid Outlook for Mid-February Cold

Natural gas futures fluctuated after earlier declines. Forecasters predicted colder-than-normal weather next week that would stoke demand for the heating fuel.

Gas gained as much as 0.7 percent after dropping to $3.207 per million British thermal units, the lowest price since Jan. 29. A midday update to the National Weather Service’s Global Forecast System model showed temperatures may be below normal in most of the contiguous U.S. from Feb. 16 through Feb. 20. A morning outlook had shown mostly normal readings.

“We still have a month of winter left and sellers are going to be reluctant to jump in,” said Gene McGillian, an analyst and broker at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. “If these indications of seasonal demand have some strength behind them, the market will continue to move higher.”

Natural gas for March delivery rose 1 cent to $3.282 per million British thermal units at 1:09 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The futures are up 33 percent from a year ago. Trading volume was 8.3 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day.

The low in New York on Feb. 16 may be 23 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 5 Celsius), 6 below normal, according to AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. The low in Chicago may be 19 degrees, 3 less than the usual reading.

About 50 percent of U.S. households use gas for heating, data from the Energy Information Administration show. The agency is part of the Energy Department.

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