Lingering Warmth in U.S. East Sends Natural Gas to Six-Week Low

  • No support for gas prices seen in 10-day outlook, analyst says
  • Shares of gas pipeline operators drop amid commodities decline

When Christmas is around the corner and there’s no frigid weather in sight for the U.S. East, it’s more bad news for natural gas bulls.

Gas dropped to the lowest price in almost six weeks as above-normal temperatures curtailed demand for the heating fuel, leaving stockpiles near an all-time high. Futures have slipped 28 percent this year, heading for a second straight annual decline, as shale production from the Northeast sends U.S. output toward a record for a fifth consecutive year.

“The 10-day forecast doesn’t really provide any support for gas prices,” said Gene McGillian, senior analyst and broker at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Conn. “With the amount of supply we have in storage, it doesn’t look like the market is going to stage a turnaround anytime soon.”

Natural gas for January delivery fell 11.9 cents, or 5.4 percent, to $2.067 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement since Oct. 28.

Shares of gas pipeline operators slid on Monday, with Energy Transfer Equity LP stock tumbling as much as 21 percent and Targa Resources Corp. touching a five-year low. Cheniere Energy Inc. was down as much as 13 percent, the lowest in two years.

Gas production from the Marcellus shale formation in Appalachia may drop 1.4 percent in January to 15.45 billion cubic feet a day, slipping for the seventh consecutive month, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Monday in its monthly Drilling Productivity report.

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