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Natural Gas Futures May Rise to 14-Month High on Cold Weather

Natural gas may rise to a 14-month high above $4 next week on speculation that cold weather will boost demand for the heating fuel, a Bloomberg survey showed.

Nine of 13 analysts, or 69 percent, forecast that futures will advance on the New York Mercantile Exchange through Nov. 30. Three, or 23 percent, said gas will decline and one said prices will stay the same. Last week, 50 percent of participants said gas would rise this week.

Forecasters including MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland, predicted temperatures on the East Coast and in the Midwest will be normal or below normal from Nov. 26 through Dec. 5. U.S. gas demand peaks during the heating season from November through March. Unusually cold weather has helped reduce a stockpile surplus, Energy Department data show.

“Nobody expects to have milder weather than last year,” said John Woods, president of JJ Woods Associates and a Nymex floor trader. “It’s more of a hedge for the first part of the winter season. They are looking to buy the stuff so they don’t get caught too late.”

Natural gas for December delivery advanced 11.3 cents, or 3 percent, in the first three days of this week to $3.903 per million British thermal units in New York, the highest settlement price since Oct. 31, 2011. Gas last traded above $4 on Sept. 15, 2011. The U.S. market was closed yesterday in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. The futures are up 15 percent from a year ago.

Supply Report

U.S. gas stockpiles fell 38 billion cubic feet in the week ended Nov. 16 to 3.873 trillion, the Energy Department said Nov. 21. The decline last week included the reclassification of 7 billion cubic feet from working gas, or inventories available for delivery, to base gas, or supplies needed to maintain adequate pressure, the department said.

The supply surplus narrowed to 4.5 percent above the five-year average from 5.6 percent the previous week.

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:


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