U.S. natgas futures edge lower after six-month high
* Prices hover just under $4 for first time since June
* Cold weather remains on tap in long-term outlooks
* Record production, comfortable storage could limit gains
NEW YORK, Dec 3 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures edged slightly lower early on Tuesday, pressured by profit-taking after eight straight session gains led the nearby contract to its highest in six months.
After near-term mild weather in consuming regions of the nation this week, forecasts for continued cold weather later this month has helped lift prices despite record-high production and comfortable inventories.
Private forecaster MDA Weather Services called for cold to be focused across northern-tier states in its six- to 10-day forecast, with the region remaining cold in the 11- to 15-day outlook.
The latest National Weather Service six- to 10-day outlook issued on Monday called for below or much-below normal temperatures for nearly the entire nation, with some above-normal readings only in Florida.
At 9:14 a.m. EST (1414 GMT), front-month January natural gas futures were at $3.974 per million British thermal units, down 1.4 cents, or less than 1 percent, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The nearby contract traded as high as $3.993 on Monday, the highest for a front-month contract since early June.
Last week's gas storage report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed total domestic inventories fell in the prior week by 13 billion cubic feet to 3.776 trillion cubic feet, 2.6 percent below last year's levels and less than 1 percent above the five-year average level.
Early withdrawal estimates for this week's storage report ranged from 109 bcf to 148 bcf versus a year-ago draw of 62 bcf and a five-year average decline of 41 bcf for that week.
Data from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission showed about 9,000 megawatts, or 9 percent of U.S. capacity, was offline on Tuesday, up from 7,400 MW out Monday, but down from 16,400 MW out a year ago and a five-year average outage rate of 10,700 MW. (Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)