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NYMEX December gas drops on mild weather outlook to $3.194/MMBtu

Houston — The NYMEX December natural gas futures contract dropped in US morning trading Friday, likely due to the mild weather forecast for much of November.

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As of 11:15 am EDT (1515 GMT), the front-month contract fell 4.3 cents and was trading at $3.194/MMBtu, after moving between $3.166/MMBtu and $3.246/MMBtu so far in the session.

"The market is taking direction from the changing weather forecast," Gene McGillian, senior analyst at Tradition Energy, said, noting that the market has dropped to $3.20/MMBtu because of mild weather forecast for November and early December.

The National Weather Service calls for a likelihood of mild temperatures for most of November and December across the US.

But there is "winter risk because storage is at 13-year lows," McGillian said.

Current national gas stocks sit at 3.143 Tcf, down nearly 17% from the five-year average of 3.781 Tcf.

Despite the historically high output levels, production has not been able to close the storage gap, likely because of high demand seen during the spring and fall shoulder season this year.

Year to date, production has seen extraordinary gains, averaging 79.4 Bcf/d, up 7.6 Bcf from year-ago levels of 71.8 Bcf, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.

Dry gas production averaged is estimated to drop to 83.6 Bcf Friday, down 924 MMcf from the day prior, after averaging 84.8 Bcf/d over the last 14 days. Platts Analytics estimates production to stay relatively flat and average 84.1 Bcf/d over the next seven days.

Total demand is set to remain flat on the day at 79.3 Bcf Friday, up from 74.7 Bcf/d on the same day last year, according to Platts Analytics. Over the past seven days, demand averaged 80.7 Bcf/d.

Demand is estimated to rise and average 82.3 Bcf/d over the next week, as cooler temperatures are expected over the next six to 10 days, which may push up heating demand.

--Veda Chowdhury,

--Edited by Ann Siebert,