Natural gas futures may decline next week as moderating weather curtails consumption of the heating fuel, a Bloomberg News survey showed.
Seven of 12 analysts, or 58 percent, forecast that gas futures will fall on the New York Mercantile Exchange through March 1. Three, or 25 percent, said futures will rise and two predicted that prices will stay the same. Last week, 50 percent of participants said gas prices would advance.
Temperatures across the eastern U.S. will be seasonal next week with above-normal readings in parts of New England, according to MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Gas prices have slumped 3.1 percent this year as above-normal temperatures cut fuel demand and boosted a stockpile surplus.
“We are getting closer and closer to the end of the season, the spring warm-up and longer days, so demand should be diminished somewhat,” said Gordy Elliott, a risk-management specialist at INTL FCStone Inc. in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. “We’ve probably got two or three weeks of withdrawals, but that still leaves us with adequate natural gas supplies.”
The low temperature in New York City on Feb. 26 will be 36 degrees Fahrenheit (2 Celsius), 5 above normal, and Columbus, Ohio, may be 4 higher than the usual reading at 31 degrees, according to AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.
About 50 percent of U.S. households use gas for heating.
Gas stockpiles totaled 2.4 trillion cubic feet in the week ended Feb. 15, 18 percent above the five-year average for the period, the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration said yesterday. The supply gap widened from 16 percent the previous week.
Natural gas for March delivery rose 13.8 cents, or 4.4 percent, to $3.291 per million British thermal units this week in New York, settling higher for the first time since Jan. 18. The futures are up 25 percent from a year ago.
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:
RISE FALL NEUTRAL
3 7 2