MTECHTIPS:-U.S. natural gas struggles near 2-week lows amid warmer

MTECHTIPS:-U.S. natural gas struggles near 2-week lows amid warmer weather

MTECHTIPS – U.S. natural gas futures struggled near a two-week low on Monday, as forecasts showing warm weather receding in key regions in the U.S. during the next few weeks dampened demand for the heating fuel. Natural gas for February delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell to a session low of $3.145 per million British thermal units, a level not seen since January 10. It was last at $3.189 by 9:35 AM ET (14:35 GMT), down 1.5 cents, or around 0.5%. The more-actively traded March contract was down 0.7 cents, or 0.2%, at $3.204. Prices of the heating fuel posted a weekly loss of more than 6% last week on forecasts for warmer winter weather. Natural gas markets have been volatile in recent weeks, changing course rapidly in response to shifting outlooks in short-term weather patterns. Prices typically rise during the winter as colder weather sparks indoor-heating demand. 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 105 and 117 billion cubic feet in the week ended January 20. That compares with a withdrawal of 243 billion cubic feet in the preceding week, 211 billion a year earlier and a five-year average drop of 176 billion cubic feet