U.S. natgas falls on bets for bigger-than-expected storage build

(Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures fell on Wednesday and were bound for their first daily decline in four days on expectations of a bigger-than-expected injection into gas inventories.

Front-month gas futures for June delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange traded 2.4 cents lower, or 1%, to $2.35 per million British thermal units at 10:13 a.m. EDT after rising as much as 2.5% earlier in the session on projections for warmer weather.

"We're getting some warm weather, but we're also getting supply enough to produce injections of over 100 (billion cubic feet). That's why the market softened up a little bit," said Thomas Saal, senior vice president for energy at StoneX Financial Inc.

Early estimates from 12 analysts polled by Reuters forecast U.S. utilities added 107 bcf of gas in storage during the week ended May 12, compared to an increase of 87 bcf in the same week last year and a five-year (2018-2022) average injection of 91 bcf.

Data from Refinitiv showed a higher-than-normal number of cooling-degree days, when higher temperatures lead to greater demand for cooling, in the next two weeks at 106 compared to the 30-year average of 95.

Prices hit their highest since April 28 in the last session, supported by expectations of a lower domestic output, but pared those gains to end nearly flat.

Refinitiv also said average gas output in May so far in the U.S. Lower 48 states was 101.4 bcf per day (bcfd).

The benchmark Dutch front-month gas contract inched up but remained near its 2-year low on solid inventories and weak demand and is expected to remain at low levels as rising temperatures contribute to lower heating demand.

Refinitiv forecasts that U.S. gas demand, including exports, would fall from 92.8 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) this week to 89.8 bcfd next week.

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