MTECHTIPS;-U.S.natural gas regains strength after plunging to 6-month

MTECHTIPS;-U.S. natural gas regains strength after plunging to 6-month lows

MTECHTIPS- U.S. natural gas futures edged higher on Wednesday, regaining strength after falling to the lowest level in around six months as forecasts called for mostly warmer-than-normal weather in key regions across the U.S. for the rest of the winter. Natural gas for March delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange sank to a session low of $2.522 per million British thermal units, a level not seen since in six months. It was last at $2.587 by 10:20 AM ET (15:20 GMT), up 2.3 cents, or around 0.9%, after sinking 27.0 cents, or 9.5%, a day earlier. The more actively-traded April contract rose 2.9 cents, or 1.1%, to $2.720, after sliding to $2.641 earlier. Prices of the heating fuel are down a whopping 30% so far this year as forecasts for warm winter weather weighed on heating demand expectations. Based on data from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, this year’s extremely warm winter has pushed heating demand for natural gas to nearly 20% below average. 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 86 and 97 billion cubic feet in the week ended February 17. That compares with a withdrawal of 114 billion cubic feet in the preceding week, 117 billion a year earlier and a five-year average drop of 158 billion cubic feet. Total natural gas in storage currently stands at 2.445 trillion cubic feet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 12.4% lower than levels at this time a year ago and 3.5% above the five-year average for this time of year

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