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NYMEX March natural gas futures up 3.4 cents at $3.201/MMBtu

NYMEX March natural gas futures were on the offensive overnight ahead ofthe Tuesday, Jan. 30, open, as colder weather in store spelled elevatedheating demand and additional large storage draws.

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At 6:49 a.m. ET (1149 GMT) the contract was 3.4 cents higher at$3.201/MMBtu.

Updated National Weather Service outlooks show a wide swath ofbelow-average temperatures encompassing the bulk of the central and eastern USthrough both the upcoming six- to 10-day and eight- to 14-day periods, hemmedin by bands of average temperatures stretching over a few areas of the Southinto portions of the Midwest and a small section of the Northwest.

Above-average temperatures are called only for much of the West, parts ofthe west-central US and fringes of the Southeast.

Weather as projected suggests stronger demand for heating that would rampup anew the amount of natural gas drawn from underground storage facilities,following an anticipated slowdown in the pace of stock erosion in theforthcoming inventory data fueled by evidence of diminished demand amid milderweather.

The US Energy Information Administration's latest "Natural Gas WeeklyUpdate" for the week ended January 24, much of which will be reflected in thenext weekly storage data that will cover the week to January 26, detailed a19% week on week decline in total US natural gas consumption, as temperaturesrose across the contiguous US

Total working gas stocks currently sit at 2,296 Bcf, or 519 Bcf below theyear-ago level and 486 Bcf below the five-year average of 2,782 Bcf, after theEIA outlined a 288 Bcf withdrawal for the week ended January 19.

The reported withdrawal tied as the second-highest stock drawdown onrecord, putting the two largest weekly withdrawals ever since data collectionbegan in the last three weeks.

It brought net stock drawdown over the last four storage report weeks toa total of 1,036 Bcf, besting the previous four-week draw record of 980 Bcfthat occurred in the period between January 17, 2014, and February 14, 2014,during a polar vortex, the EIA said.