RPT-UPDATE 1-U.S. natgas futures rebound as colder weather expected

Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:00am EST

NEW YORK Jan 28 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures for February were up on Tuesday as forecasts for the coming days turned colder.

Private forecaster MDA Weather Services revised its six-to-10-day forecast to show colder-than-average temperatures for all of the country except Florida. It had previously expected warmer temperatures to spread from Texas to Maine.

Front-month futures have been extremely volatile over the past week, gaining more than 10 percent on Friday and falling more than 5 percent on Monday.

Implied volatility over the last 30 days reached 83 on Friday, the highest since September 2009. On Monday, it fell to 69, still within levels not seen since 2009.

Price swings are likely to temper if weather forecasts become more certain and moderate.

"Robust production levels of gas and uncertainty surrounding the weather outlook for the second half of this winter should provide growing resistance to rising gas prices, especially if forecasts moderate in the coming weeks," said Addison Armstrong, senior director of market research at Tradition Energy.

The front-month February natural gas futures contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange was up 9.5 cents, or 1.96 percent, to $4.942 per million British thermal units at 10:05 a.m. EST (15:05GMT).

On Monday, the contract reached $5.442 per mmBtu, its highest level since February 2010, before ending the day down more than 6 percent.

The front-month, which expires on Wednesday, is up about 13 percent since the beginning of January.

In the ICE cash market, trades for gas for Wednesday delivery at Henry Hub , the benchmark supply point in Louisiana, were heard at $5.25, down 44 cents from Monday, when prices reached their highest level since 2010. Early trade differentials were done at a 31-cent premium over the NYMEX price.

Sabine Pipeline announced Tuesday morning that it would begin repairs on the South Booster Station at the Henry Hub, reducing compression capabilities by 40 percent. The company could not say whether the repairs would affect overall capacity or how long they would take.

Gas on New York's Transco Zone 6 pipeline had not yet traded early Tuesday.

Storage withdrawals for the bitterly cold week ended Jan. 24 are expected to be within 220 billion to 280 billion cubic feet, according to analysts polled by Reuters. The U.S. Energy Information Administration will release the data on Thursday.

Nuclear plant outages, which create a draw on natural gas as a substitute power source, were at about 2,600 megawatts on Monday, equal to those on Monday. That compares with 9,050 MW out a year ago and a five-year average outage rate of 5,800 MW.

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