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NYMEX December natural gas drops 12.2 cents on lower demand

Houston — The NYMEX December natural gas futures contract slumped 12.2 cents to settle at $2.566/MMBtu Monday as a forecast of warmer-than-usual temperatures led to weaker demand.

The front-month contract traded in a range between $2.551/MMBtu and $2.65/MMBtu Monday.

The remainder of the winter strip - December 2019 through March 2020 - also weakened Monday, falling 11 cents to average $2.565/MMBtu.

"We've had an early start to winter, but I think we are going to start returning to more normal temperatures for this time of year. Those warmer temperatures could keep us below $2.60 for as long as the weather holds," said Gene McGillian, senior analyst at Tradition Energy.

After averaging 110 Bcf/d for the last seven days, total US gas demand was expected to fall below 100 Bcf on Monday to 99.19 Bcf. Looking ahead, S&P Global Platts Analytics expects total gas demand to average 99.4 Bcf/d in the coming week and 100.5 Bcf/d in the week after that.

Export demand is forecast to remain strong over the next week, with shipments to Mexico expected to average 5.3 Bcf/d and LNG feedgas demand set to average 7.3 Bcf/d.

US-wide gas production was expected to fall 300 MMcf day on day to 92.2 Bcf, according to Platts Analytics. Despite the day-on-day decrease, Monday's production level was up 150 MMcf/d from its prior seven-day average of 92.05/MMBtu. Platts Analytics estimates gas production will average 92.3 Bcf/d over the coming two weeks.

Looking ahead, the US National Weather Service's eight- to 14-day outlook shows normal temperatures across the Upper Midwest and along the East Coast. It shows warmer-than-normal temperatures in California and Florida, as well as colder-than-normal temperatures in the Rockies, Pacific Northwest, Southwest and Southeast.

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

-- Kelsey Hallahan, kelsey.hallahan@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, newsdesk@spglobal.com