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Asian prices snap three-week losing streak as winter kicks in

By Jessica Jaganathan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Asian spot prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG) snapped a three-week losing streak to end higher this week, with the onset of winter expected to boost demand for natural gas for heating.

But gains were limited amid forecasts of warmer-than-usual temperatures for most of next week in Tokyo, Beijing and Seoul, the top demand centers for natural gas in Asia, and as more spot supply entered the market from the United States and Russia.

Spot prices for January delivery edged up about 10 cents to around $8.90 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), with cargoes trading from as low as $8.50 per mmBtu to as high as $9.10 per mmBtu, several industry sources said.

Prices for February delivery also inched higher and were estimated at around $9.10 to $9.30 per mmBtu, keeping the price curve in contango.

“The (spot) market has probably bottomed out with (prices) being pretty flat and I am hearing of more people looking for cargoes,” said a Singapore-based LNG trader.

China, the world’s No. 2 LNG importer, has ramped up both domestic gas production and imports to meet rising demand as the government switches more households to gas heating this winter.

China’s November natural gas output climbed 10 percent to a record-high of 14.3 billion cubic meters (bcm), official data showed on Friday.

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