Natural gas futures climbed in New York as a winter storm brought frigid weather to the Northeast, boosting heating demand.
The storm was forecast to drop snow across central and eastern New England into Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. The low in Boston may be 14 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 10 Celsius), 9 below normal, according to AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.
“The blizzard seems to have given the gas market a little bit of a psychological boost,” said Phil Flynn, a senior market analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “Traders are also looking beyond the storm to a cold front over the next week.”
Natural gas for February delivery rose 10 cents, or 3.5 percent, to settle at $2.981 per million British thermal units at on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Volume for all futures traded was 13 percent below the 100-day average at 2:45 p.m. Gas is down 39 percent from a year ago.
The storm knocked out power to about 35,000 homes and businesses in eastern Massachusettsand Rhode Island, where a blizzard warning was in effect until 8 p.m. A similar warning was posted for coastal New Hampshire and Maine until 4 a.m. Wednesday, the weather service said.
MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland, said temperatures may be lower than average in the eastern third of the U.S. through Feb. 10. Earlier forecasts showed milder readings.
The low in New York on Feb. 2 may be 13 degrees Fahrenheit, 14 less than usual, data from AccuWeather Inc. show. About 49 percent of U.S. households use gas for heating, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The agency is the Energy Department’s statistical arm.
Entergy Corp.’s Pilgrim nuclear plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts, shut overnight because of a loss of offsite power, Lauren Burm, a spokeswoman for the company, said in a Twitter message. The plant is stable and there is no threat to workers or the public, Burm said.
Gas stockpiles in the lower 48 states totaled 2.637 trillion cubic feet through Jan. 16, 5.5 percent below the five-year average, EIA data show. Supplies were 8.2 percent above year-earlier levels.
Inventories probably fell 113 billion cubic feet last week, according to the median of eight analystestimates compiled by Bloomberg. The five-year average decline is 168 billion for the period.
By the end of last winter, the coldest since 1982 by a measure of heating demand, stockpiles were arecord 55 percent below five-year average supplies after starting the season at a small surplus. Prices jumped to $6.493 per million British thermal units on Feb. 24, a five-year high.
Gas consumption from electricity generators may advance 3.2 percent this year to 23 billion cubic feet a day, while demand from industrial users may rise 4.4 percent to 22.1 billion a day as new fertilizer and chemicals projects start up, the EIA said Jan. 12 in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook.