Nuclear Power Plant Closures Caused Wednesday's Spike in Natural Gas (UNG)

July 19, 2012 8:36 AM EDT
The idling of nuclear plants on the East Coast of the U.S. helped cause a huge rally in natural gas futures yesterday. The idled nuclear plants in New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Maryland total near 3,500 megawatts, which could increase demand for gas by as much as 700 million cubic feet per day, according to reports out of Reuters.

United States Natural Gas Fund, LP (NYSE: UNG) closed higher by 5.56 percent on Wednesday. Yesterday, natural gas futures touched $3.02 briefly, just below July highs near $3.06. Today they are trading near $2.96 per million btu.

Natural prices moved higher in early trading on Thursday as investors traded ahead of weekly inventory data, which are expected to show a weekly storage build of approximately 33 bcf, well below seasonal averages of 74 bcf.

Despite the trend higher in natural gas, some traders think it will be unable to break above key resistance at $3.10 - the price where coal starts to look attractive relative to natural gas for use in power generation.

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