* Mild Northeast weather seen curbing loads
* Record high inventories weigh on sentiment
* NYMEX gas futures slip early, edge higher late
NEW YORK, June 17 (Reuters) - U.S. spot natural gas prices
fell at nearly every price point for the first time in three
days Wednesday, pressured by mild weather in key consuming
regions in the Northeast, record high inventories and a quiet
tropical front, traders said.
But late-day gains in the gas futures market and continued
heat across the South that began spreading toward the Midwest
was seen limiting losses.
Gas for Thursday delivery at benchmark Henry Hub <NG-W-HH>
in Louisiana slid 17 cents on average to $3.99 per million
British thermal units, after jumping 36 cents on Tuesday for
gas delivered on Wednesday.
Late Hub cash deals were also heard at about a 15-cent
discount to the front month July futures contract on the New
York Mercantile Exchange <NGN9>, easing from deals done late
Tuesday at about an 8-cent discount.
The current Hub average was still above the June monthly
index of $3.54, but still well below the year-ago price of
$12.87 and the $7.69 mean on about the same day in 2007,
according to Reuters data.
On NYMEX, the front month July contract last traded up
about 13 cents at $4.254, after sliding as low as $4.035 in
In major consuming markets, gas on the Transco pipeline at
the New York city gate <NG-NYCZ6> also fell 17 cents on average
to $4.32, while Chicago <NG-CHGC> was 10 cents lower at $3.91.
Temperatures in both key gas consuming cities were seen
mixed, with New York below normal for the next six days and
Chicago rising back above normal, but highs were seen topping
out near 80 degrees Fahrenheit in both cities, according to
forecaster DTN Meteorlogix.
Houston, Los Angeles and Miami were all seen slightly above
normal for the period, with highs in the South and West
expected to range from the high-70s to the high-90s F, the
The latest National Weather Service six to 10-day outlook
issued Tuesday called for above-normal readings for a large
portion of the midsection of the nation, with below-normal
temperatures along the Northeast and West coasts.
On the storage front, last week's report from the U.S.
Energy Information Administration showed total domestic gas
inventories climbed to 2.443 trillion cubic feet, a record high
for this time of year.
Inventories now stand at 568 billion cubic feet, or 30
percent, above last year and 438 bcf, or 22 percent, above the
five-year average. nPRWPI54
Injection estimates for this week's EIA report ranged from
98 bcf to 115 bcf with most traders and analysts expecting
stocks to rise by about 106 bcf when weekly data is released
Thursday at about 10:30 a.m. EDT, a Reuters survey showed.
Stocks climbed an adjusted 60 bcf for the same week last
year, while the five-year average build for that week is 80
Traders noted a build Thursday near the Reuters survey
estimate would drive the year-on-year surplus above 600 bcf.
In its June Short-Term Energy Outlook last week, EIA said
the inventory gain of 465 bcf in May was the largest increase
for that month since records were first kept in 1976.
If weekly storage injections match the five-year average
pace for the remaining 21 weeks of the stock building season,
inventories will begin next winter with 3.816 tcf in the
ground, a new record high.
Average prices at other spot gas market points and previous
day prices follow (US$/mmBtu):
Henry Hub 3.99 4.16
New York city gate 4.32 4.49
Chicago city gate 3.91 4.01
Panhandle (Mid-continent) 3.03 3.10
Northern at Demarcation (Minn.) 3.38 3.33
Southern California Border 3.33 3.35
Katy Hub (East Texas) 3.91 4.10
Waha (West Texas) 3.39 3.47
Dominion-South (Appalachia region) 4.21 4.34
Columbia TCO (Appalachia region) 4.17 4.31