RTTNews - The price of natural gas soared on Monday as strong economic data has led traders to bet demand will improve as the economy recovers.

Natural gas for July delivery soared 41.4 cents to close at $4.249 per million British thermal units. Prices touched as high as $4.259 earlier in the session.

With the rally, natural gas added to its recent gains. As it took over as the front-month contract, July natural gas ended last week 19 cents higher and added 22 cents in the month of May.

Natural gas soared 30 cents on Thursday Energy Information Administration data showing stockpiles rose 106 billion cubic feet in the week ended May 22. Experts had been calling for a build of around 110 bcf.

In economic news, the Institute for Supply Management showed that the index of activity in the manufacturing sector rose to 42.8 in May from 40.1 in April. Economists had been expecting the index to edge up to a reading of 42.0.

Commerce Department data showed that construction spending increased by 0.8 percent to an annual rate of $968.7 billion in April following a revised 0.4 percent increase in March. Economists had expected spending to decrease by about 0.8 percent.

A separate Commerce Department report showed that personal income increased by 0.5 percent in April following a revised 0.2 percent decrease in March. Personal spending edged down 0.1 percent in April after falling by a revised 0.3 percent in the previous month.

In China, the Purchasing Manager's Index stayed above 50 in May, indicating an economic recovery. China, the world's second-biggest energy consumer, increased prices of gasoline and diesel by as much as 8 percent today, a move that may prompt domestic refiners to boost crude purchases for processing.

In other energy trading, crude oil rallied to $67.56, up $1.25 on the session. Prices reached as high as $68.29 in electronic trading.

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