Oil rose from a four-month low Thursday, while natural gas soared to the highest level in 21 months on signs of robust demand for the fuel.
Natural gas futures rose 19 cents, or 4.4 percent, to end at $4.40 per 1,000 cubic feet. The last time natural gas hit that level was July 2011.
The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration reported that natural gas in storage grew by 31 billion cubic feet to 1.704 trillion cubic feet for the week ended April 12.
Paul Belflower, vice president of marketing and supply at Mustang Fuel Corp. in Oklahoma City, said that report was probably the catalyst for Thursday's price increase, but lingering cold weather likely contributed as well.
Supplies typically rise in the spring, but last week's increase was less than analysts expected. Homeowners in some parts of the country still needed to turn the heat on as temperatures dropped below normal.
Belflower said the National Weather Service forecast shows much of the U.S. will see temperatures below normal for the next week or so.
He said he expects gas prices to remain in the current range until demand for power generation hits this summer.
“I think we're probably range-bound right now, if I had to make a I guess, I'd say between $4.75 at the upper end and $4 at the low end for at least the rest of this year,” Belflower said.
He said a mild summer could push gas back below $4.
Benchmark oil for May delivery rose $1.05, or 1.2 percent, to finish at $87.73 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil dropped $2.04, or 2.3 percent, on Wednesday — the fourth daily drop of at least 2 percent in April.
Concerns over global economic growth have caused the price of oil and other commodities to drop sharply. This week China reported slower-than-expected economic growth while the International Monetary Fund lowered its outlook for world economic growth for this year.