Natural gas futures increased on Friday amid expectations of low temperatures as low as 8 degrees Fahrenheight towards the end of January, increasing demand for furnace fuel.

February natural gas delivery increased 5.7 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $8.138 per million British thermal units (BTU) at 11:27 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Natural gas futures recorded 28 percent increase from 2007.

According to, the temperatures in New York are predicted to fall to as low as 24 degrees Fahrenheit from the usual 37 degrees, while Chicago temperatures are also predicted to drop to about minus 3 degrees next week.

According to a government report released yesterday, stockpiles for this week were 2.691 trillion cubic feet, 6.7 percent above the five year average of 2.523 trillion.

In the U.S. natural gas accounts for 43 percent of energy use in industrial and commercial sectors while electric power generation accounts for 29 percent of the demand.