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January 2018 natural gas futures settle 7.2 cents lower ahead of weekend

Losing 3.1 cents in the prior session, January 2018 natural gas futures extended solidly lower Friday, Dec. 15, session, despite prospects for colder weather that should boost heating demand and cut into supply in the coming weeks.

Moving from $2.581/MMBtu to $2.732/MMBtu, the January 2018 natural gas futures contract settled at $2.612/MMBtu, down 7.2 cents on the day.

The natural gas market consolidated lower Friday, ultimately shrugging off updated temperature forecasts that showed more supportive weather for the extended period.

According to the National Weather Service, normal to below-normal temperatures are eyed for the northern tier of the country during the six- to 10-day period. Above-average conditions are projected for the southern half of the country during this same period.

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In the eight- to 14-day timeframe, the agency is calling for widespread below-normal temperatures, with above-average readings seen only in California; parts of the Southwest, including Texas; and areas of the Southeast, including Florida.

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In terms of supply, the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Dec. 14 reported a net 69 Bcf was pulled from natural gas storage in the Lower 48 during the week ended Dec. 8, leaving total U.S. working gas supply at 3,626 Bcf, or 201 Bcf below the year-ago level and 27 Bcf below the five-year average storage level of 3,653 Bcf. Although the figure was larger than most analysts had projected, it came in below a 132-Bcf year-ago pull and the 78-Bcf five-year average withdrawal.

According to the American Gas Association, domestic dry gas production so far in December has been averaging 76 Bcf/d, which is about 8%, or almost 6 Bcf/d, above levels recorded in December 2016. However, gas demand climbed above 100 Bcf on Dec. 8.

The EIA reported total supply of natural gas remained steady in the week ended Dec. 13, averaging 82.0 Bcf/d, while demand climbed significantly. Total U.S. consumption of natural gas rose by 27% compared with the previous report week, according to the agency's Natural Gas Weekly Update.

Next-day natural gas markets were generally softer Friday amid the continued futures weakness and the inclusion of the lower-load weekend days in the trading package.

In the Northeast, day-ahead gas at the Transco-NY Zone 6 hub lost more than $1.00 on the session to an index at $3.20/MMBtu. Product at the Tetco M3 market was assessed around $2.65/MMBtu, easing about 25 cents.

Spot gas at the benchmark Henry Hub market was priced at an average around $2.60/MMBtu, falling about 10 cents. Chicago gas for the three-day delivery period eased 5 cents to $2.55/MMBtu.

Gas at PG&E Gate was quoted near $2.85/MMBtu, declining 5 cents, while product at the SoCal Border was priced around $2.80/MMBtu, losing more than 5 cents on the day.

Market prices and included industry data are current as of the time of publication and are subject to change. For more detailed market data, including power and natural gas index prices, as well as forwards and futures, visit our Commodities pages.