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NYMEX April gas settles at $2.786/MMBtu, up 0.8 cent, on demand, weather

The NYMEX April natural gas futures contract settled at $2.786/MMBtu, up0.8 cent, as a recent demand uptick and cold weather have continued to supportprices. March has been a different story for the front-month contract thanFebruary, as it has risen 8.8 cents or 3.3%, since March 1. In February, overthe same time span, the contract fell 26.2 cents, or 10.1%.

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Colder-than-average weather is expected to linger over much of the US inthe coming days, as the most recent eight- to 14-day outlook from the NationalWeather Service calls for a likelihood of lower-than-average temperatures inthe Northwest, Southwest, Rockies, Northeast and parts of the Midwest.

Coming off lower-than-average temperatures was demand that averaged 87.5Bcf/d over the prior seven days, up 2.5 Bcf/d from the 85 Bcf/d averaged sofar in March and 5.1 Bcf/d above the 82.4 Bcf/d averaged over the same month ayear ago, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.

Production has continued to be robust, as dry production has averaged77.6 Bcf/d over the previous seven days, up 6.2 Bcf/d from the year-agoaverage of 71.4 Bcf/d and just below the 77.7 Bcf/d average so far in March,according to Platts Analytics.

Looking ahead, players will look to see how the recent demand bump willaffect national stock levels that currently sit at 1.625 Tcf, a 15.6% deficitto the five-year average, according to the US Energy InformationAdministration.

In addition, the eight- to 14-day estimates for dry production and USdemand were at 77.6 Bcf/d and 75.9 Bcf/d, respectively.

The NYMEX settlement is considered preliminary and subject to changeuntil a final settlement price is posted at 7 pm EDT (2300 GMT).

--Tyler Schwartz,

--Edited by Valarie Jackson,