U.S. natural gas futures edged higher for the second straight session on Tuesday, hitting their strongest level in more than a week as near-term weather forecasts turned warmer.
U.S. natural gas for September delivery was at $2.998 per million British thermal units by 8:15 AM ET (1215 GMT), up 3.6 cents, or around 1.2%. It touched its highest since August 14 at $3.000 earlier.
Futures posted their strongest one-day gain in roughly two weeks on Monday, jumping 2.5% after updated weather forecasting models showed that hot high pressure will dominate most of the U.S. in the week ahead. Highs of upper 80s to 100s are expected to drive considerably stronger-than-normal national demand until the end of the week.
Natural gas prices have closely tracked weather forecasts in recent weeks as traders try to gauge the impact of shifting outlooks on late-summer cooling demand. Nearly 50% of all U.S. households use gas for cooling.
Total natural gas in storage currently stands at 3.082 trillion cubic feet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 7.6% lower than levels at this time a year ago but 1.8% above the five-year average for this time of year.
Early market expectations for this week's storage data due on Thursday is for a build in a range between 37 and 47 billion cubic feet in the week ended August 18. That compares with a gain of 53 billion cubic feet in the preceding week, a build of 11 billion a year earlier and a five-year average rise of 53 billion cubic feet.