September 29, 2017 / 7:51 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Speculators cut U.S. natgas net longs for 1st week in four -CFTC

 (Adds gas prices and benchmarks)
    Sept 29 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas speculators cut their
net long positions for the first time in four weeks on forecasts
calling for a possible third consecutive warmer-than-normal
winter and a slow but steady increase in production.
    Speculators in four major New York Mercantile Exchange
(NYMEX) and Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) markets reduced
bullish bets by 59,814 contracts to 254,725 in the week to Sept.
26, the least since early August, the U.S. Commodity Futures
Trading Commission said on Friday.
    That is the biggest weekly decline in speculative net longs
since early June.
    That compares with a five-year (2012-2016) average
speculative net long position of around 127,300. 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 data.
    Gas futures on the NYMEX averaged $2.97 per million British
thermal units during the five trading days ended Sept. 26 versus
$3.08 during the five trading days ended Sept. 19.
    In their latest forecasts, meteorologists predicted
temperatures would be near normal in November, January and
February and warmer than average in December.
    If correct, that would be the third winter in a row that
temperatures were somewhat warmer than normal during at least
some of the coldest months of the year.
    Traders said a "warm" winter reduces the chances that gas
prices will spike later this year because there will be less
demand for the fuel to heat homes and businesses.
    They also noted stockpiles were still a little above normal
for this time of year and gas output was rising, so there should
be enough fuel available even if the weather does turn colder
than currently expected.            
    U.S. output over the past 30-days averaged 73.9 billion
cubic feet per day (bcfd), topping the 71.0 bcfd produced during
the same period in 2016.       

 (Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Diane Craft and Sandra
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