Investing.com – U.S. natural gas futures were higher on Thursday, but came off the strongest levels of the session after data showed that domestic supplies in storage rose more than anticipated last week.
U.S. natural gas for July delivery was at $2.898 per million British thermal units by 10:40AM ET (1440GMT), up 0.5 cents, or around 0.2%. Futures were at around $2.918 prior to the release of the supply data.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas storage in the U.S. rose by 61 billion cubic feet in the week ended June 16, above forecasts for a build of 58 billion.
That compared with a gain of 78 billion cubic feet in the preceding week, an increase of 62 billion a year earlier and a five-year average rise of 82 billion cubic feet.
Total natural gas in storage currently stands at 2.770 trillion cubic feet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 10.4% lower than levels at this time a year ago but 7.4% above the five-year average for this time of year.
Meanwhile, warm to hot conditions will return over the Great Lakes and East with highs back into the 80s to lower 90s in the next three-to-five days.
Natural gas prices have closely tracked weather forecasts in recent weeks, as traders try to gauge the impact of shifting outlooks on summer heating demand.
Gas use typically hits a seasonal low with spring’s mild temperatures, before warmer weather increases demand for gas-fired electricity generation to power air conditioning.
Nearly 50% of all U.S. households use gas for heating.
Traders also watched for any disruptions to energy production in the Gulf of Mexico from tropical storm Cindy. The storm prompted the shut in of 17.2% of oil production and 0.3% of natural-gas output in the Gulf Wednesday, according to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.