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NYMEX Apr natural gas continues upward trend, underpinned by cold weather

NYMEX April natural gas futures were slightly higher in morning trading Tuesday as a recent uptick in demand and some cold weather have continued to support prices.

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As of 10:43 am EST (1443 GMT), the April contract was trading at $2.789/MMBtu, up 1.1 cents from Monday's close. So far on Tuesday, the April contract has traded in a range of $2.776-$2.811/MMBtu.

March has been a different story for the NYMEX front-month contract than during February, as since March 1 the front-month contract has increased 9.1 cents or 3.4%. In contrast, over the same time span during February the front-month contract fell 26.2 cents or 10.1%.

Colder-than-average weather in much of the country over the past week was expected to stick around in the coming days, as the most recent 8-14 day outlook from the National Weather Service called for a likelihood of colder-than-average temperatures in the Northwest, Southwest, Rockies, Northeast and parts of the Midwest.

Coming off the back of the colder-than-average temperatures over the past few days was an uptick in demand, which averaged 87.5 Bcf/d over the previous seven days, 2.5 Bcf/d higher than the 85 Bcf/d averaged over March to date and 5.1 Bcf/d higher than the 82.4 Bcf/d averaged over March 2017, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.

Production has continued its robust way of late as dry production has averaged 77.6 Bcf/d over the previous seven days, 6.2 Bcf/d higher than 71.4 Bcf/d average over March 2017 and just below the March to date average of 77.7 Bcf/d, according to Platts Analytics.

Looking ahead, players will look to see how the recent bump in demand will affect low national stock levels, which sit at 1.625 Tcf, a 15.6% deficit to the five-year-average, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

In addition, the 8-14 day estimates for dry production and US demand were at 77.6 Bcf/d and 75.9 Bcf/d, respectively, potential evidence that the shoulder season was right around the corner.

--Tyler Schwartz,

--Edited by Dan Lalor,