Natural gas futures in New York declined the most in almost two months Wednesday, on forecasts of moderating weather that may limit demand from power plants.
Gas slid 5 percent after WSI Corp. in Andover, Massachusetts, predicted mostly normal weather in the Midwest and Northeast through May 16. About 35 percent of U.S. gas demand comes from electricity producers, according to the Energy Department.
“The bullish weather has dissipated, and we’re still on a path toward lower prices,” said Tom Saal, senior vice president of energy trading at INTL Hencorp Futures LLC in Miami. “We could take another shot at $2.”
Natural gas for June delivery fell 11.8 cents to settle at $2.253 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The futures, which had risen for three straight days, have declined 25 percent this year, making gas the worst performer on the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Index of 24 commodities. Wednesday’s percentage drop was the biggest since March 5.
Gas fell to a 10-year intraday low of $1.902 per million Btu on April 19.
June $2 puts, bets that prices will fall, were the most active options in electronic trading on the exchange. They rose 1.6 cents to 3.4 cents per million Btu on volume of 1,223 contracts at 3:05 p.m.
The high in New York on May 9 may be 71 degrees Fahrenheit (22 Celsius), 2 above normal, according to AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. The high in Cleveland may be 63 degrees, 2 below normal.
Cooling demand in the U.S. may be 7 percent below normal from May 8 through May 12, data from Weather Derivatives in Belton, Missouri, show.
Temperatures in the U.S. this summer will be lower than the past two years and the number of hurricanes coming out of the Atlantic will probably be fewer than in 2011, forecasters from MDA EarthSat Weather said.
While June to August may be warmer than both the 10-year and 30-year averages, temperatures aren’t forecast to reach the record hot levels of 2011, Travis Hartman, energy weather manager at MDA in Gaithersburg, Maryland, said in a joint presentation by MDA and Bloomberg LP in New York yesterday.
Residential deliveries of natural gas in February totaled 23 billion cubic feet a day, the lowest on record for that month, the Energy Department said April 30 in its Natural Gas Monthly report. Commercial deliveries were 13.5 billion a day, the lowest for that month since 1992.
Gas inventories rose 47 billion cubic feet in the week ended April 20 to 2.548 trillion cubic feet, the Energy Department said April 26. Marketed gas production reached a record 66.22 billion in 2011 and may rise another 4.5 percent this year, according to Energy Department estimates.
“The inventory glut could still drive prices to new lows this spring as seasonal weather demand fades,” said Mike Fitzpatrick, editor of the Energy OverView newsletter in New York, in a note to clients. “More pressure is likely to come in summer as storage caverns fill up and force more gas on to an oversupplied market.”
Chesapeake Energy Corp. reported an unexpected first-quarter loss, cut cash flow estimates, reduced its drilling budget and said it may run out of money next year under the weight of the lowest natural-gas prices in a decade.
The company’s net loss narrowed to $71 million, or 11 cents a share, from $205 million, or 32 cents, a year earlier, the Oklahoma City-based company said in a statement Tuesday. Natural-gas production of 2.98 billion cubic feet a day was 10 percent higher than a year earlier.
Chesapeake curtailed gross natural gas production by about 330 million cubic feet a day during the first quarter and by as much as 900 million a day in February and March, the company said in an earnings statement yesterday.
The company will reduce its gas-rig count to 12 within the next 90 days from 50 at the beginning of 2012, Aubrey McClendon, Chesapeake’s chief executive officer, said in a conference call with analysts today.
Gas futures volume in electronic trading on the Nymex was 366,449 as of 2:46 p.m., compared with the three-month average of 371,000. Volume was 394,768 yesterday. Open interest was 1.26 million contracts. The three-month average is 1.25 million.
The exchange has a one-business-day delay in reporting open interest and full volume data.
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