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U.S. Natural Gas Stockpiles Probably Fell 0.3%, Analysts Say

U.S. natural-gas supplies probably fell by less than the seasonal average last week as moderate weather reduced heating-fuel demand, according to analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Inventories dropped 11 billion cubic feet, or 0.3 percent, to 3.84 trillion cubic feet in the week ended Dec. 2, based on the median of 12 estimates. The five-year average change for the week is a decrease of 66 billion, according data from the Energy Department, whose weekly supply report is due tomorrow. Stockpiles fell 79 billion the same week last year.

Temperatures were mostly seasonal or above-normal in the eastern half of the U.S. last week, according to Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland. Marketed gas production will average 67.72 billion cubic feet a day in 2012, up from 66.87 billion estimated in November, the department said yesterday in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook.

“The cold weather has been slow in coming this season,” said Jason Schenker, the president of Prestige Economics LLC in Austin, Texas. “The supply side of the equation remains robust.”

The stockpile estimates ranged from an increase of 1 billion to a decline of 42 billion cubic feet. The department’s weekly supply report is scheduled for release at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in Washington.

The low temperature in New York on Dec. 1 was 37 degrees Fahrenheit (3 Celsius), matching the normal temperature, according to AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. The low in Chicago was 30 degrees, 2 above normal.

About 51 percent of U.S. households use natural gas for heating, according to the Energy Department.

Natural gas futures rose 4.2 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $3.584 per million British thermal units last week on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The January contract today fell 5.6 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $3.431 per million Btu at 11:59 a.m. in New York.

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