U.S. natural gas futures held near a two-week low on July 17 on forecasts for less hot weather over the next two weeks than previously expected.

Prices remained weak even though pipeline exports to Mexico are on track to hit a record high this month.

Front-month gas futures fell 0.5 cents, or 0.3%, to settle at $1.718 per million British thermal units, the lowest close since July 1.

For the week, the front-month was on track to drop about 5% after rising almost 21% in the prior two weeks.

Refinitiv said production in the Lower 48 U.S. states averaged 88.2 Bcf/d so far in July, up from a 20-month low of 87 Bcf/d in June but still well below the all-time monthly high of 95.4 Bcf/d in November. Traders noted output was rising as EQT Corp. boosted production in Appalachia.

As consumers crank up their air conditioners, Refinitiv forecast U.S. demand, including exports, will rise from 90.8 Bcf/d this week to 93 Bcf.d next week and 93.3 Bcf/d in two weeks. That, however, was lower than Refinitiv's outlook on July 16.

Pipeline gas flowing to U.S. LNG export plants averaged 3.3 Bcf/d (34% utilization) so far in July, down from a 20-month low of 4.1 Bcf/d in June and a record 8.7 Bcf/d in February. Utilization was about 90% in 2019.

U.S. pipeline exports, meanwhile, rose as consumers in neighboring countries cranked up their air conditioners.

Refinitiv said pipeline exports to Canada averaged 2.4 Bcf/d so far in July, up from 2.3 Bcf/d in June, but still below the all-time monthly high of 3.5 Bcf/d in December. Pipeline exports to Mexico averaged 5.56 Bcf/d so far this month, up from 5.44 Bcf/d in June and on track to top the record 5.55 Bf/d in March.