Natural gas futures fell Wednesday as traders look past storm activity to the seasonal slowdown in gas usage.
Natural gas for October delivery was recently down 1.7 cents, or 0.04%, at $3.921 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Futures are maintaining a tight range centered on $4, which has been a pivot point for trading for more than a month. After moving higher earlier in the week on expectations of above-normal temperatures in some parts of the U.S., gas prices are being kept in check by the expected decline in demand that comes at the end of summer.
"The market is going to continue to grind lower," said Gene McGillian, a broker and analyst with Tradition Energy.
Gas production in the Gulf of Mexico remains curtailed due to Tropical Storm Lee, though analysts said it had little effect on the overall natural gas market.
The Gulf accounts for just 7% of total U.S. production, down from 17% in 2008, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as U.S. output has shifted to areas on land.
Still, the National Hurricane Center is currently tracking two weather systems that could interrupt some Gulf output.
An area of low pressure in the southwestern Gulf "is showing some signs of organization" and has a 60% chance of forming into a tropical cyclone in the next two days, the NHC said. Tropical Depression 14 is moving west across the Atlantic Ocean.