-- "The natural gas futures price fell 13% last week, to $2.67 per 1,000 cubic feet. That's the lowest winter level in a decade (see chart above).
"The market has been overwhelmed with gas," says Anthony Yuen, a commodities analyst at Citibank. He and other analysts expect the price to average near $3 for all 2012. If the weather stays mild, the price could even dip below $2, a level not seen since 2002.
Cheap natural gas is mainly a good thing for the economy:
• More than half of U.S. households use natural gas for heat, and a quarter of the nation's electricity is made from it. Falling heating and electric costs are offsetting the impact of high gasoline prices and enabling families and small businesses to spend on other things. Residential gas and electric customers are saving roughly $200 a year, according to a study by Navigant Consulting.
• For companies that make plastics, fertilizer and other chemicals derived from natural gas, falling prices are a windfall. The same goes for makers of products from steel to bricks to beer. All use a lot of natural gas to heat their furnaces. U.S. manufacturers are becoming more competitive globally as a result of the country's cheap natural gas, industry officials say."