March 9, 2018 / 8:55 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Speculators boost U.S. natgas net longs for 1st week in five -CFTC

 (Adds natural gas prices, supplies)
    March 9 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas speculators boosted
their net long positions for the first time in five weeks,
betting prices will rise as exports increase and inventories
remain well below normal for this time of year.
    Speculators in four major New York Mercantile Exchange
(NYMEX) and Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) markets added to
their bullish bets by 24,673 contracts to 211,680 in the week to
March 6, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said on
    That compares with a five-year (2013-2017) average
speculative net long position of 161,450. The biggest net long
position was 456,475 in April 2013, while the biggest net short
position was 166,165 in November 2015, according to Reuters
    Gas futures on the NYMEX averaged $2.70 per million British
thermal units during the five trading days ended March 6 versus
$2.65 during the five trading days ended Feb. 27.
    U.S. gas inventories were about 16 percent below the
five-year average during the week ended March 2 after utilities
pulled immense amounts of fuel out of storage to heat homes and
businesses during several bitter cold weeks around the start of
the year.                 
    Pipeline and liquefied natural gas exports, meanwhile, are
expected to rise from an annual average of 8.7 bcfd in 2017 to
10.5 bcfd in 2018 and 12.9 bcfd in 2019, according to federal
energy projections in March.             
    The United States transitioned from a net importer of gas
into a net exporter of the fuel on an annual basis in 2017. The
United States was last a net exporter of gas on an annual basis
in 1957.             

 (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and
Sandra Maler)
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