Cold weather driving gas prices

For the first time in a year and a half, natural gas futures rose to $4 per million British thermal units in New York. Bloomberg reported gas has increased 19 percent so far in 2013, driven in large part by cold weather and winter storms.

Gas stockpiles declined, however, by 62 billion cubic feet during the week ending March 15, according to Energy Information Administration data released March 21. The drop is more than usual for this time of year, but still below the 72 bcf decline that analysts were expecting, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"The initial reaction was that it wasn't as big of a draw as anticipated, so we got the pullback," said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho, according to the WSJ.

The source said U.S. stockpiles are more than 21 percent below levels at this time in 2012, and just 9.5 percent above the five-year-average levels for this time of year.

The cold weather has increased the gas-fired heating demand for homes and businesses throughout the United States, leading to an increase of 18 percent in gas prices, the WSJ reported.

More information on natural gas prices can be found at PennEnergy's research area.

For the first time in a year and a half, natural gas futures rose to $4 per million British thermal units in New York.

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