Friday, December 20, 2013
NEW YORK--Natural-gas futures prices fell 0.9% Friday as traders cashed in after Thursday's near 5% jump to a 2-1/2-year high.
Traders said market participants took to the sidelines ahead of a mixed weekend weather outlook.
Forecasters at MDA Weather Services said a "potent winter storm" was expected to move through the
Midwest to the Great Lakes region, while, unusually warm temperatures are expected in the east, including record high temperatures in the mid-Atlantic region.
Natural gas for January delivery settled 4.2 cents lower, at $4.418 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gas futures gained 1.5% on the week, the seventh straight weekly rise.
Analysts said the modest decline at the end of the week showed traders were taking protection against potential shifts in near-term weather forecasts over the weekend.
Jeff Moore, analyst at Bentek Energy, said latest estimates show 14.9 billion cubic feet of production was lost last week due to freeze-offs at wellheads and other weather issues.
"Production has since recovered slightly, but is still being effected by freeze-offs," Mr. Moore said, adding that about 500 million cubic feet a day is still off line.
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