Cold Weather in Northeast Sends Natural Gas Price Soaring

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Natural gas prices in New York City rose by nearly $60 per million BTUs on Monday as a record cold snap has driven demand for the heating fuel in the northeastern U.S. to an expected 5-year high of 38.3 billion cubic feet for Tuesday. Demand reached 26.9 billion cubic feet on Monday according to Platts. One million cubic feet is roughly equal to 1 billion BTUs.

At the Henry Hub pricing point in Louisiana, natural gas for February delivery was down slightly today at $4.30 per million BTUs.

Cold weather is expected to continue over much of the U.S. for the next several days, with wind chills into the -40 degree range in areas around the Great Lakes. Washington, D.C., is expecting a high of 20 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday, while New York can look forward to a high of 14 degrees.

The spike in natural gas prices will hit consumers with hefty bills which likely will put a damper on their discretionary spending for the next month or so — or longer if the bitter weather returns. The impact of the cold weather on the recovering U.S. economy is more than negligible, even though it is pretty tough to quantify.