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Open interest in natural gas at a record

Open interest in natural gas at a record (by Claudia Assis)

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Money managers have flocked to natural-gas futures, according to data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission late Friday. It showed combined futures and options open interest at 3.6 million contracts. That's a record and 21% higher than the same period a year ago, said Tim Evans, an analyst with Citigroup's Citi Futures Perspective. Bets prices will go higher also demonstrated "a shift in sentiment" that has room to continue, he added. The optimism, however, "also adds to the potential for renewed price declines on long liquidation," Evans said. Natural-gas futures have recently traded a their lowest in nearly a decade on warmer-than-expected weather and increased production, but have recouped some losses in recent sessions. The March contract (ng12h) ended flat on Friday at $2.48 per million British thermal units.