Jan. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Natural gas inventories fell by less than average last week as milder weather curtailed demand for the heating fuel, analyst forecasts compiled by Bloomberg show.
Stockpiles slid 137 billion cubic feet to 3.179 trillion in the seven days ended Jan. 11, based on the median of 18 estimates. The five-year average stockpile change for the period is a decline of 144 billion, according to data from the Energy Information Administration, an arm of the Energy Department. Last year, supplies fell by 89 billion during that week.
Temperatures were higher than average in the eastern half of the U.S. last week, said Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland. The low in New York on Jan. 10 was 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 Celsius), 13 above normal, the National Weather Service reported.
“Heating demand in the consuming East likely witnessed a dramatic move lower throughout the report week,” said Eric Bickel, an analyst at Summit Energy Services in Louisville, Kentucky.
Heating degree days, a measure of weather-driven energy demand, probably fell 30 percent compared with a week earlier, Bickel said.
Stockpile estimates ranged from decreases of 123 billion to 143 billion cubic feet. The EIA’s weekly supply report is scheduled for release at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in Washington.
Natural gas futures this week have gained 10.8 cents, or 3.2 percent, to settle at 3.435 per million British thermal units today on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices have risen 29 percent from a year ago.
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