Storm blusters natural gas to two-week high

Yet another winter storm has brought snow to the US Northeast, offering little respite to dwindling US supplies of natural gas.

Natural gas futures for March surged more than 5.5% to trade above $5500 per million British thermal units (BTUs) by mid-afternoon in New York, with today seeing the highest prices in the contract since 5 February.

We have seen big draws in the amount of natural gas in US storage in recent weeks, as the cold weather has spurred heating demand. Around half of homes in the US use natural gas for heating. The last three reports from the US Energy Information Administration have each shown weekly declines in excess of 200 billion cubic feet of natural gas, taking the total in storage down to 1686 billion cubic feet, well below the five-year average, and I would be expecting another big decline this week.

Winter storm Rex, the eighteenth named storm of this winter’s season, has already swathed the Midwest in snow and freezing rain, and is moving across the US Northeast today, likely to affect Massachusetts, southern Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, with several inches of snow expected.

Natural gas was only available for electronic trading in New York yesterday because of the market close for US Presidents’ Day, with yesterday’s price movements being counted towards today’s official daily close on NYMEX. 

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