Prompt-month natural gas futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex) neared $2.00/MMBtu last week but failed to push beyond a $1.943 Wednesday intraday high.

With technical and fundamental support lacking, the front month headed lower on Monday, slipping 7.9 cents to settle at $1.691, and was trading marginally flat Tuesday morning.

“The May Nymex contract has been stuck in a horizontal channel since late January with no clear direction on a breakout either way,” according to NGI’s Pat Rau, director of Strategy and Research.

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The momentum...