Natural gas futures prices gained Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange after forecasters predicted warmer weather across much of the country next week.

The above-normal temperatures would increase chances of consumers using air conditioners, and some of the utilities providing power to run the air conditioners rely on natural gas.Investors were covering their positions over the long Labor Day holiday weekend after the American Gas Association reported supplies in storage grew at a smaller pace than expected.

With market participants beginning to look toward winter heating demand, there are some fears storage levels may be too low in the event of an unusually cold winter.

October natural gas rose 7.1 cents to $1.783 for each 1,000 cubic feet.

Light sweet crude oil settled at $14.59 per barrel, off 8 cents. Unleaded gasoline was down .43 cent a gallon at 42.08 cents. Home heating oil was off .48 cent a gallon, down 39.13 cents.

In London, North Sea Brent Blend crude oil settled at $13.31 per barrel, down 13 cents, at the International Petroleum Exchange.