Natural gas prices spiked to a three-and-a-half year high on Friday as a surge in demand for the heating fuel and extent of the extreme cold spell across much of the country has led to concerns about whether there will be ample U.S. supplies to last through this winter.
NYMEX natural gas futures for February delivery skyrocketed nearly 10 percent to $5.182 per million British Thermal Units, the highest settlement price since June 2010. The price continued to gain in after-hours electronic trading.
Natural gas futures have now rallied more than 5 percent in each of the past three trading days and have gained nearly 20 percent so far this year. Meanwhile, cash prices for natural gas in the Northeast hit record levels this week - topping $135 in the New York and New Jersey area -- due to pipeline issues.