Cold weather sends natural gas prices soaring

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014,  file photo, homes are covered in snow and ice in Chicago. The frigid winter of 2014 is setting the price of natural gas on fire. On Friday Jan. 24, 2014, the price in the futures market rose to within a whisper of $5 per 1,000 cubic feet, the highest level in three and a half years. The price of natural gas is up 25 percent in two weeks, and is 45 percent higher than last year at this time. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, file photo, homes are covered in snow and ice in Chicago. The frigid winter of 2014 is setting the price of natural gas on fire. On Friday Jan. 24, 2014, the price in the futures market rose to within a whisper of $5 per 1,000 cubic feet, the highest level in three and a half years. The price of natural gas is up 25 percent in two weeks, and is 45 percent higher than last year at this time. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

Natural gas prices are sharply higher as cold weather blankets large parts of the country. Metals prices are mixed, while agricultural futures are lower.

Natural gas soared 52 cents, or 10 percent, to $5.56 per 1,000 cubic feet Wednesday. That’s the highest price since February 2010.

The frigid winter weather in much of the country, including ice storms in the South, gave another boost to natural gas, the most widely used heating source in the U.S.

U.S. crude oil for March delivery slipped 5 cents to close at $97.36 a barrel in New York.

Gold for February delivery rose $11.40 to $1,262.20 an ounce. Silver for March delivery edged up 5 cents to $19.55 an ounce. Other metals fell.

Wheat, corn and soybean futures fell.

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