MTECHTIPS:- U.S. natural gas slides to 5-week lows on warm weather

MTECHTIPS:- U.S. natural gas slides to 5-week lows on warm weather forecasts

MTECHTIPS- U.S. natural gas futures declined again on Wednesday, extending Tuesday’s plunge of almost 11%, as forecasts of mild weather replaced predictions of severe cold. Natural gas for February delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange shed 3.5 cents, or around 1.1%, to $3.292 per million British thermal units by 10:15 AM ET (15:15 GMT). Futures tumbled 39.7 cents, or 10.66%, on Tuesday after updated weather forecasting models pointed to above normal temperatures throughout large portions of the southern and eastern U.S. through January 16, dampening demand for the heating fuel. About half of U.S. homes use natural gas for heating. Meanwhile, market participants looked ahead to weekly storage data due on Thursday, which is expected to show a draw in a range between 72 and 83 billion cubic feet in the week ended December 30. That compares with a withdrawal of 237 billion cubic feet in the preceding week, 131 billion a year earlier and a five-year average drop of 107 billion cubic feet. Total natural gas in storage currently stands at 3.360 trillion cubic feet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, almost 11.0% lower than levels at this time a year ago and 2.3% below the five-year average for this time of year. Natural-gas markets have been volatile in recent weeks, changing course rapidly in response to shifting outlooks in short-term weather patterns.