NEW YORK, N.Y. – Natural gas rose almost three per cent Thursday, reaching its highest level since November as the U.S. government said supplies of the fuel are nearly 20 per cent below year-ago levels.
Oil rose slightly after positive U.S. jobs data, with benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery up 51 cents to end at US$93.03 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Natural gas futures gained 13 cents, or 3.6 per cent, to finish at US$3.81 per 1,000 cubic feet. The government reported that natural gas in storage shrank by 145 billion cubic feet to 1.938 trillion cubic feet for the week ended March 8.
That’s 18.5 per cent below last year’s level, although still 11 per cent above the five-year average. Booming production created a glut that last year dropped natural gas to a decade-low price below US$2.
Addison Armstrong, senior director of market research at Tradition Energy, says forecasts for cold weather through the end of March in primary U.S. gas-consuming areas have helped prices as well.
Oil rose slightly Thursday as U.S. employment data supported the market, offsetting news about ample crude supplies and worries about the eurozone economy. Weekly U.S. jobless claims fell by a greater than anticipated 10,000 to 332,000, helping to sustain hopes about the U.S. labour market.
Brent crude, used to price many kinds of oil imported by U.S. refineries, was up 90 cents to finish at US$109.42 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on the Nymex, wholesale gasoline was unchanged at US$3.14 a U.S. gallon (3.79 litres), while heating oil picked up half a cent to end at US$2.93 a gallon.