U.S. natgas futures edge higher, slip from 4-month high
* Cooler weather on tap for later this month
* Prices remain above key technical resistance levels
* No weekly EIA inventory report due to government shutdown
By Eileen Houlihan
NEW YORK, Oct 14 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures edged higher early on Monday, extending gains for a third straight day, but prices edged off the four-month spot chart high hit in overnight electronic trading.
Continued technical buying and short-covering ahead of cooler weather on tap for late this month as well as offshore Gulf of Mexico production cuts helped pushed the contract up nearly 8 percent last week.
The onset of autumn nuclear plant outages has spurred some near-term demand for gas-fired replacement power.
But some traders expect further upside to be limited, with healthy inventories and a fairly quiet tropical front seen capping more gains.
At 9:27 a.m. EDT (1327 GMT), front-month November natural gas futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange were at $3.826 per million British thermal units, up 5 cents, or about 1 percent, after trading between $3.785 and $3.855, the highest price for a front-month contract since late June.
Prices remain above key technical resistance at the 100-day and 200-day moving averages.
The nearby contract hit a five-week low of $3.402 in late September.
The latest National Weather Service six- to 10-day outlook issued on Sunday called for below-normal temperatures for nearly the entire nation, with some above-normal readings only along parts of the East and West Coasts.
Last week's gas storage report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed total domestic inventories rose the prior week by 90 billion cubic feet to 3.577 trillion cubic feet.
Total stocks stand just about 4 percent below last year's level and are nearly 2 percent above the five-year average.
The EIA last week said it would not release weekly inventory data or other data this week due to the government shutdown. The agency said energy companies should continue to submit their data to the EIA and it will be processed after the furlough period.
Early estimates from traders showed most expect between 88 bcf and 96 bcf were injected into inventories, compared with a year-ago build of 54 bcf and a five-year average increase of 75 bcf for that week.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center was tracking one low- pressure system in the Atlantic basin on Monday, but it had a very low chance for further development and was not an immediate threat to offshore energy production.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not updating its daily reactor status report due to the government shutdown. However, Reuters data showed about 14,800 megawatts, or 15 percent of U.S. capacity was likely offline, up from 13,700 MW out on Friday, but down from 21,100 MW out a year ago and a five-year average outage rate of 19,800 MW. (Editing by Maureen Bavdek)