In a direction reversal, the NYMEX August natural gas contract settled higher on Friday on the heels of a slightly bearish storage report from the US Energy Information Administration on Thursday.
After trading down most of the session, the contract was able to shrug off concerns of a warmer-than-normal National Weather Service forecast for eight to 14 days out.
August futures traded 2.9 cents higher at $2.756/MMBtu, within a range of $2.669-$2.778/MMBtu Friday.
EIA data showed that working gas in storage was 3.243 Tcf as of July 8 -- a build of 64 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks are 507 Bcf higher year on year and 586 Bcf above the five-year average of 2.657 Tcf.
S&P Global Platts unit Bentek Energy forecasts overall US demand will weaken from Thursday's volume of 69 Bcf to around 67.7 Bcf over the next seven days before increasing over a few weeks to 71.2 Bcf. US production will remain static near the 70 Bcf mark over the next couple of weeks.
"[T]his was the first not-hotter-than-normal week we've seen since the end of May," analysts at Tudor, Pickering, Holt and Co. said in an email commentary. "However, weather forecast continues to call for hotter-than-normal temps."
"Holiday weekend noise limits [the] utility of calculating an adjusted supply/demand number, so [we] will have to wait until next week to get a clean look at underlying fundamentals," they said.
The National Weather Service's most recent eight- to 14-day outlook remains similar to previous forecasts that most of the US will have above-average temperatures. Only a small portion of the country in the Pacific Northwest is expected to experience normal temperatures.
The NYMEX settlement price is considered preliminary and subject to change until a final settlement price is posted at 7 pm EDT (2300 GMT).