Natural gas futures gained, trading near $4 per million British thermal units in New York, on forecasts of cold early-spring weather that would spur demand for the heating fuel.
Gas headed toward a fifth consecutive weekly gain as Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland, said temperatures would be at least 5 degrees Fahrenheit (3 Celsius) below normal across most of the U.S. from March 27 through March 31. The low in Chicago on March 30 may be 25 degrees, 11 lower than average, according to AccuWeather Inc.
“It’s fairly cold and that’s helping to keep the market strong,” said Tom Saal, senior vice president of energy trading at FCStone Latin America LLC in Miami. “If prices show some fundamental strength at the $4 level, the market is going to continue to firm up.”
Natural gas for April delivery rose 5 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $3.985 per million British thermal units at 8:57 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The futures have gained 19 percent this year, the best performer on the Standard & Poor’s GSCI spot index of 24 commodities. Gas was the biggest loser in the first quarter of 2012.
Trading was 29 percent below the 100-day average for the time of day. Gas rose to $4.025 per million Btu yesterday, the highest intraday price since Sept. 15, 2011. The futures last rose for five straight weeks in the period ended Jan. 21, 2011.
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