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Natural gas falls to lowest since 2002 on mild weather outlook

[WARSAW] US natural gas tumbled to the lowest intraday level since January 2002 amid forecasts that mild weather will persist through the end of the month.

January futures fell as much as 5.6 per cent to US$1.879 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange and traded at US$1.881 at 12.14 pm London time. Gas is down 35 percent this year, headed for its second annual decline.

Futures extended declines from Friday, when they sank below US$2 per million Btu for only the second time in three years amid forecasts that predict above-normal temperatures that would suppress heating demand through late December.

"As far as this week goes, it is hard to imagine an uglier scenario for natty bulls," Stephen Schork, president of Schork Group Inc., a consulting group in Villanova, Pennsylvania, said in an e-mailed report.

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The high in New York on Dec 25 may be 13 Celsius, 15 more than average, AccuWeather Inc. data show.

The volume of futures traded was 161 per cent above the 100- day average for the time of day.