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Published: Thursday, 2/13/2014

Natural gas prices jump 8 percent as winter storm causes heating demand to soar


NEW YORK — Natural gas prices moved sharply higher Thursday after a winter storm hit much of the Eastern United States.

Natural gas futures rose 40 cents, or 8.3 percent, to $5.22 per 1,000 cubic feet. It’s up 9 percent this week.

The winter storm that struck cities from Atlanta to Boston continues to keep natural gas usage at multi-year highs. The Energy Department said Thursday the nation’s gas stockpiles fell by 237 billion cubic feet from the week before. Natural gas stocks are 28 percent below their five-year average, due to increased usage.

Natural gas is the nation’s most widely used heating source. Even electric heat is often powered by natural gas-fired power plants.

Heating oil, a heating source primarily used in the Northeast, rose 2 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $3.03 a gallon.

In other energy commodities, crude oil for March delivery fell 2 cents to $100.35 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline futures rose a penny to $2.78 a gallon.

Agricultural commodities all rose. March wheat added 8.5 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $5.955 a bushel while corn rose less than a penny to $4.405 a bushel. March soybeans rose 21 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $13.44 a bushel.

In metals, gold rose $5.10, or 0.4 percent, to $1,300.10 an ounce. The metal is up 8 percent this year. Silver rose 5 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $20.40 an ounce.

Platinum rose $9.30, or 0.7 percent, to $1,416.60 an ounce and palladium was up $2.05, or 0.3 percent, to $731.10 an ounce. High-grade copper fell less than a penny to $3.25 a pound.

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