Natural Gas Slumps in Survey as Mild Weather Reduces Demand

Natural gas may decline next week as moderating weather curbs consumption of the heating fuel, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Eight of 15 analysts, or 53 percent, said futures will fall on the New York Mercantile Exchange through Jan. 17. Five predicted gas will rise and two said prices will stay the same. Last week, 73 percent of participants said gas would advance.

WSI Corp. in Andover, Massachusetts, said temperatures may be mostly normal or higher than average in the contiguous U.S. from Jan. 14 through Jan. 18 as a polar weather system fades. The low in New York on Jan. 14 may be 37 degrees Fahrenheit (3 Celsius), 10 more than average, according to AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

“The worst of the arctic blast has mostly moved out of the main part of the U.S.,” said Dominick Chirichella, senior partner at the Energy Management Institute in New York. “We could see prices drifting lower throughout the month of January.”

Natural gas for February delivery tumbled 25.1 cents, or 5.8 percent, to $4.053 per million British thermal units this week on the New York exchange. The futures capped a third consecutive weekly drop.

Chicago temperatures may fall to 18 degrees Fahrenheit on Jan. 14, matching the normal reading for the day, AccuWeather data show. About 49 percent of U.S. households use gas for heating, according to the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistical arm.

The gas survey has correctly forecast the direction of prices 51 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

5 8 2

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