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Natural Gas May Gain as Cold Sparks Demand, Survey Shows

Natural gas futures may advance next week as colder-than-normal weather boosts demand for the heating fuel, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Six of 12 analysts, or 50 percent, forecast that gas futures will rise on the New York Mercantile Exchange through Feb. 22. Four, or 33 percent, said futures will fall and two predicted that prices will stay the same. Last week, 50 percent of participants said gas prices would decline.

Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland, predicted below-normal temperatures across most of the lower-48 states Feb. 19 through Feb. 23. Gas tumbled the most in six weeks yesterday after a government report showed U.S. inventories fell by less than forecast last week.

“I expect that prices will correct further in the aftermath of today’s sell-off,” Teri Viswanath, director of commodities strategy at BNP Paribas SA in New York, said in an e-mailed response to questions yesterday. “We have witnessed a trend where prices improve slightly on cooler temperatures in between storage releases.”

Natural gas for March delivery dropped 11.9 cents, or 3.6 percent, to settle at $3.153 per million British thermal units this week in New York. Prices have declined for four weeks.

The low in Minneapolis on Feb. 19 may be minus 1 degree Fahrenheit (minus 18 Celsius), 15 lower than usual, according to AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. 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.

The gas survey has correctly forecast the direction of prices 50 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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