U.S. spot natgas slips as moderating temperatures curb demand21 minutes ago by Thomson Reuters
* Henry Hub gas remains just under last week's 19-month high    * Near-term cold expected to moderate late week, next week    * Nuclear plant outages still above normal levels    * Coming Up: EIA natgas storage data Thursday    By Eileen Houlihan    NEW YORK, April 3 (Reuters) - U.S. spot natural gas pricesslid across the nation on Wednesday, as near-term cold weatherin consuming regions was expected to moderate late this week,curbing heating demand.    High temperatures in New York City on Thursday were expectedto climb about 10 degrees from Wednesday, to the mid-50sFahrenheit, according to the Weather Channel's weather.com.    The forecaster said highs in Chicago would climb more than10 degrees to the high-50s F on Thursday.    Gas for Thursday delivery at the nation's benchmark HenryHub <NG-W-HH> in Louisiana slid 7 cents to average $4 permillion British thermal units, after rising 10 cents on Tuesdayfor gas delivered on Wednesday.    Hub cash prices rose twice last week to $4.08, their highestaverage price since early September 2011.    Late-winter cold put a dent in inventories, while highnuclear power plant outages kept demand for gas high andunderpinned a nearly 16-percent run-up in Henry Hub prices lastmonth.    But with forecasts for moderating weather in the comingdays, most traders expect more upside to be limited.    Wednesday's Hub average remained just above the Aprilmonthly index of $3.98, and was more than double the year-agoprice of $1.94. Cash prices bottomed out last year in late-Aprilat $1.82.    Late deals eased slightly to 9 cents over the front-monthMay natural gas futures contract on the New York MercantileExchange, from deals done late Tuesday at a 10-centpremium.    The front-month futures contract traded late down about 4cents at $3.93, also below last week's 19-month high of $4.121.    In consuming regions, gas on the Transco pipeline at the NewYork citygate <NG-NYCZ6>, the day's biggest loser on themoderating forecasts, tumbled nearly $2 to average $5.15, whileChicago gas <NG-CHGC> was 22 cents lower on the day at $4.10.    After the lingering cold early this week in consumingregions, the latest National Weather Service six to 10-dayforecast issued on Tuesday again called for above-normalreadings for about the eastern half of the nation, with somebelow-normal readings only expected in parts of the Southwest.    Nuclear outages totaled 22,400 megawatts, or 22 percent ofcapacity, down from 23,400 MW out on Tuesday and 22,600 MW out ayear ago, but up from a five-year average outage rate of 21,600MW.         INVENTORY DRAW WELL ABOVE EXPECTATIONS    Last week's gas storage report from the U.S. EnergyInformation Administration showed domestic gas inventories fell the prior week by 95 billion cubic feet, above Reuters pollestimates for an 87 bcf draw.     It was the fifth time in six weeks that the weeklywithdrawal was above expectations.    Domestic gas inventories are now at 1.781 trillion cubicfeet, nearly 27 percent below last year's record high, but stillnearly 4 percent above the five-year average.    (Storage graphic: http://link.reuters.com/mup44s)    Estimates for this week's EIA gas storage report ranged from65 bcf to 108 bcf, with most analysts expecting data to show adraw of about 91 bcf when it is released early Thursday, aReuters poll showed.     Stocks rose an adjusted 43 bcf during the same week lastyear and on average over the past five years have gained 4 bcfthat week.    Storage began winter at a record 3.929 tcf, but about 2.15tcf of gas has been pulled from storage so far this heatingseason, or 45 percent more than last year at this time.    Stocks, which will likely fall below the five-year averagefor the first time since September 2011 after Thursday's data,are set to end the heating season near the 1.73 tcf average, or30 percent below last winter's record-high finish of 2.48 tcf.    A Reuters poll in mid-January showed most analysts expectedstorage to finish the winter at about 2 tcf.    Baker Hughes data last week showed the gas-directeddrilling rig count fell by 29 to a 14-year low of 389.     (Rig graphic: http://link.reuters.com/nuz86t)     Average prices at spot gas market points and previous dayprices follow (US$/mmBtu):                                      4/03/13             4/02/13          Henry Hub                           4.00                4.07                  New York citygate                   5.15                7.05                  Chicago citygate                    4.10                4.32                  Panhandle (mid-continent)           3.79                3.94                  Northern at Demarcation  (Minn.)    4.03                4.18                  Southern California border          3.90                4.04                  Katy Hub (east Texas)               3.96                4.05                  Waha (west Texas)                   3.88                3.98                  Dominion-South (Appalachia region)  4.04                4.19                  Columbia TCO (Appalachia region)    4.07                4.20                        For more U.S. spot natural gas prices, click on <0#NG-US>        RELATED LINKS     - Canadian Spot Natural Gas Prices..............<0#NG-CA>     - U.S. Spot Gas versus Oil Comparisons..........     - BTU U.S. Spot Natural Gas Prices..............<0#NG-BTU>     - U.S. Nuclear Power Reactor Outage Table ......     - North American Power Plant Outage Table .....     - North American Power Transmission Table .....     - U.S. EEI Electricity Output Report ...........     - U.S. EEI Electricity Output Table ............ <EEI->     - NYMEX Natural Gas Futures .................... <0#NG:>     - NYMEX Crude Oil Futures .......................<0#CL:> (Editing by David Gregorio)