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NYMEX March natural gas down 2.3 cents seeking direction

After settling 11.3 cents lower at $2.584/MMBtu Friday, NYMEX March natural gas futures were near unchanged overnight ahead of Monday's open with changing fundamentals.

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At 7:15 am ET (1215 GMT) the contract was 2.3 cents lower at $2.561/MMBtu, while trading a range from $2.545/MMBtu to $2.607/MMBtu.

Colder weather helped drive up natural gas demand to start February, with the EIA's latest "Natural Gas Weekly Update" showing a 13% rise in total US gas consumption during the week to Feb. 7 from a week earlier, led by a 20% gain in ResComm demand.

Rising demand in the report feeds expectations of a rise in the rate of weekly inventory withdrawals for the next storage data for the week ended Feb. 9, for which preliminary estimates call for drawdowns in the upper 170s Bcf against the 120 Bcf year-ago pull and the 154 Bcf five-year-average.

The week's data would follow a 119 Bcf draw from stocks reported by the EIA for the week to Feb. 2 that bested the average anticipated 115 Bcf pull, but trailed both the 142 Bcf prior-year withdrawal and the 151-Bcf five-year average drawdown.