U.S. natgas futures end down 2 pct in sixth straight loss

Reuters

* Above-normal temperatures on tap for consuming regions

* Prices remain below key technical support levels

* Coming Up: EIA natgas storage data on Thursday

By Eileen Houlihan

NEW YORK, Nov 4 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures slid 2percent on Monday, pressured for a sixth straight session totheir lowest level in nearly six weeks by forecasts forabove-normal temperatures that will curb heating demand inconsuming regions.

"Natural gas futures have flushed further to the downside asthe temperature forecasts continued to trend somewhat warmerthrough the weekend, removing some heating demand and likelypostponing the start of seasonal storage withdrawals," said CitiFutures energy analyst Tim Evans.

In addition, technical traders noted the nearby contractremains well below both the 100-day and 200-day moving averages,another continued bearish sign.

With nuclear power plant outages below normal, a quiettropical front and near record-high production, most tradersexpected more losses until sustained cold weather arrives.

Front-month December natural gas futures on the NewYork Mercantile Exchange slid 6.8 cents, or 1.94 percent, tosettle at $3.445 per million British thermal units.

The nearby contract slid to $3.406 in electronic trade, acontract low and the lowest mark for a front-month since lateSeptember.

It traded as high as $3.869 three weeks ago, the highestprice for a front-month contract since late June.

Other months ended lower as well on Monday, with wintermonths losing about 7 cents each.

In the cash market, gas for Tuesday delivery at the NYMEXbenchmark, Henry Hub in Louisiana, slid 8 cents to$3.38, according to ICE. Late deals were done at about even withthe front-month contract, compared to those done late Friday ata 4-cent discount.

Gas on the Transco pipeline at the New York citygate , however, rose 13 cents to $3.44, while Chicagogas slid 5 cents to $3.50.

The latest National Weather Service six- to 10-day outlookand the eight- to 14-day outlook, both issued on Sunday, calledfor above-normal temperatures for nearly the entire nation, with below-normal readings only in the West.

Last week's gas storage report from the U.S. EnergyInformation Administration showed total domestic inventoriesrose the prior week by 38 billion cubic feet to 3.779 trillioncubic feet, 3.1 percent below last year's level and 1.6 percentabove the five-year average level.

Early injection estimates for Thursday's EIA storage reportrange from 30 bcf to 45 bcf versus a 27 bcf build during thesame year-ago week and the five-year average increase of 36 bcffor that week.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said a broad low pressuresystem over the Central Caribbean had a low, 10 percent chancefor further development in the next five days. The Atlantichurricane season runs through Nov. 30.

Data from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission showedabout 12,800 megawatts, or 13 percent of U.S. capacity, wasoffline on Monday, even with Friday's outages but down from26,800 MW out a year ago and a five-year average outage rate of20,100 MW.

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