UPDATE 3-U.S. natgas futures end lower after matching 4-month high
* Cooler weather on tap for late this month
* Prices still above key technical resistance levels
* No weekly EIA inventory report due to government shutdown (Updates prices to settlement)
By Eileen Houlihan
NEW YORK, Oct 15 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures ended lower on Tuesday, their first loss in four sessions, with traders blaming some profit taking after the nearby contract rose to a nearly four-month spot chart high.
The front-month contract is up more than 8 percent in just over a week, lifted in continued technical buying amid trending cooler weather outlooks, the onset of autumn nuclear plant outages and offshore production cuts from Tropical Storm Karen.
"Gas prices are pushing up to a near four-month high as the market attempts to price in winter-heating risk," said Addison Armstrong, senior director of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.
But some traders expect healthy inventories and a fairly quiet tropical front to help cap further gains.
Front-month November natural gas futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange slid 3 cents, or less than 1 percent, to settle at $3.79 per million British thermal units.
The contract matched Monday's high of $3.855 in electronic trade, 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.
Other months ended lower as well on Tuesday, with the December contract down 3.1 cents, or also under 1 percent at $3.935, and winter months losing about 3 cents each.
In the cash market, gas for Wednesday delivery at the NYMEX benchmark, Henry Hub GT-HH-IDX in Louisiana, rose 3 cents to $3.83. Late deals, however, eased to 1 cent under the front-month contract, compared with those done late Monday at a 3-cent premium.
Gas on the Transco pipeline at the New York citygate E-TSCO6NY-IDX gained 9 cents to $3.61, while Chicago gas MC-CHICIT-IDX was 7 cents higher on the day at $3.94.
For more ICE U.S. cash gas prices click on <0#GAS-IDX=ICE>.
Forecaster MDA Weather Services called for "unseasonably cold" weather in the Central U.S. for the one- to five-day period in its outlook issued on Tuesday.
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 data 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 last week, 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. 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 a year ago, and a five-year average outage rate of 20,600 MW. (Editing by Jim Marshall, Marguerita Choy and Andre Grenon)
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