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U.S. Natural Gas Futures Extend Rally to Hit 2-Week Highs

13/09/17 - - - U.S. natural gas futures extended this week's rally into a third day on Wednesday, hitting their strongest level in around two weeks as investors looked ahead to weekly data from the U.S. on supplies in storage to weigh what the impact of recent storm activity was on supply and demand.

U.S. natural gas for October delivery was at $3.056 per million British thermal units by 9:05AM ET (1305GMT), up 5.5 cents, or around 1.9%, after hitting its best level since Sept. 1 at $3.064 earlier.

Futures climbed 5.1 cents, or 1.7%, on Tuesday as concerns over the impact of Hurricane Irma faded away.

Natural gas prices have gained around 6% so far this week after Hurricane Irma struck the U.S. southeast with less force than once feared, easing worries over a hit to energy demand.

Despite recent gains, prices look set to remain on the back foot in the weeks ahead as traders react to the reality that higher summer demand for the commodity is coming to an end.

Demand for natural gas tends to rise in the summer months as warmer temperatures increase the need for gas-fired electricity to power air conditioning.

But with autumn due to start on September 22, power burns to feed air conditioning demand have probably peaked for now, market analysts said.

Market participants looked ahead to weekly storage data due on Thursday, which is expected to show a build in a range between 72 and 83 billion cubic feet in the week ended September 8.

That compares with a gain of 65 billion cubic feet in the preceding week, a build of 62 billion a year earlier and a five-year average rise of 63 billion cubic feet.

Total natural gas in storage currently stands at 3.220 trillion cubic feet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, around 6.2% lower than levels at this time a year ago and mostly in line with the five-year average for this time of year.

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