U.S. natgas futures edge higher, match 4-month high
* Cooler weather on tap for late this month
* Prices remain above key technical resistance levels
* No weekly EIA inventory report due to government shutdown
NEW YORK, Oct 15 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures edged higher for a fourth straight session on Tuesday, matching Monday's nearly four-month spot chart high in continued technical buying and short-covering ahead of cooler weather expected late this month.
The nearby contract is up more than 9 percent in just over a week, boosted by the trending cooler weather outlooks, the onset of autumn nuclear plant outages and offshore production cuts from Tropical Storm Karen.
But some traders expect healthy inventories and a fairly quiet tropical front to help cap further gains.
At 9:09 a.m. EDT (1309 GMT), front-month November natural gas futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange were at $3.846 per million British thermal units, up 2.6 cents, or less than 1 percent. The contract matched Monday's high of $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 Monday again called for below-normal temperatures for nearly the entire nation, with some above-normal readings only in the Southeast and Northwest.
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 about 4 percent below last year's level and nearly 2 percent above the five-year average.
The EIA will not be releasing weekly inventory data or other data this week because of 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 74 bcf and 91 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 said no tropical cyclone formation was expected during the next five days.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not updating its daily reactor status report because of the government shutdown. However, Reuters data showed about 15,300 megawatts, or 16 percent of U.S. capacity, was likely offline, up from 14,800 MW out on Monday but down from 24,500 MW out a year ago and a five-year average outage rate of 20,600 MW. (editing by Jim Marshall)
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