One day ahead of the July natural gas futures contract expiration, the New York Mercantile Exchange Inc. (Nymex) announced some margin increases Tuesday for its natural gas, Henry Hub swaps, Nymex miNY natural gas, Henry Hub swing swap, Henry Hub penultimate swap, and the natural gas penultimate and last day futures contracts. The changes will go into effect at the close of business on Thursday.

Natural gas futures lately have been stuck mostly within a dollar trading range from $5.90 to $6.90 due to an ongoing battle of market fact versus market expectation (see related story). The factual side, which lines up in the corner for the bears, includes high storage levels, low summer heat to date and fairly quiet storm activity in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. On the other side, the bulls are sticking to their guns, which include the market’s expectations for significant summer heat and another overly active storm season. On Tuesday, July natural gas futures closed 13.8 cents higher at $6.107.

Nymex said Tuesday afternoon that margins for the first and second months of the natural gas futures contract will remain unchanged, while the margins for the third and fourth months will increase to $8,000 from $7,500 for clearing members, to $8,800 from $8,250 for members, and to $10,800 from $10,125 for customers. For all other margin changes, go to

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