Natural gas surges on tropical storm activity

Natural-GasNatural gas futures surged more than 2% on Tuesday as investors kept a close watch on a tropical storm over the central Atlantic Ocean and a low-pressure area over the western Caribbean Sea, which could disrupt supplies from the Gulf of Mexico. Forecasts for seasonal weather in most of the U.S. limited gains.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas for delivery in November rose by 2.01% to $3.633 per million British thermal units at 15:03 GMT. Prices held in range between days high and low of $3.650 and $3.537 per mBtu respectively. The fuel fell by 1% on Monday but extended its weekly advance to 1.2% following Tuesdays rebound.

Gas prices surged on Tuesday as investors monitored tropical storm Jerry which strengthened over the central Atlantic Ocean Monday night. Maximum sustained winds reached 45 miles per hour but the storm remained stationary for now.

Meanwhile, a low-pressure area over the western Caribbean Sea is moving northwestward with a speed of 10 mph and has a 30% chance of becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours, the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida reported.

Losses however remained limited as weather forecasts pointed at seasonal weather in most of the Northeast and Midwest during then next 10 to 14 days. According to Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland, temperatures in the central U.S. from October 5 through October 9 will fall to normal after this weeks warmer readings.

When warm weather is expected, natural gas surges as increased electricity demand to power air-conditioning calls for more supply of the fuel, which is used for a quarter of the U.S. electricity generation. Mild temperatures have the opposite effect. Consumption usually declines in autumn before picking from November through March. According to the Energy Information Administration, power generation accounts for 32% of U.S. gas demand and 50% of U.S. households use gas for heating.

The fuel plunged last Thursday after the Energy Information Administration reported that U.S. natural gas inventories added 87 billion cubic feet in the week ended September 20, compared to the five-year average increase of 75 billion and last year’s 79 billion build during the comparable week. Analysts expected a gain in the range between 61 billion and 71 billion cubic feet.

Natural gas held in underground storage hubs now totaled 3.386 trillion cubic feet, which is 5% below 2012′s 3.565 trillion. However, the surplus over the five-year average total value of 3 356 billion cubic feet widened to 0.9%.

Market players will be keeping a close watch to this week’s inventories data. Early injection estimates for this week’s build range between 82 and 100 billion cubic feet, well above last year’s 77 billion during the comparable week and the five-year average increase of 82 billion cubic feet.

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