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April Seen Slightly Cooler; May Called A Penny Higher

May natural gas is expected to open a penny higher Tuesday morning at $2.66 as traders factor in a slight cool tweak to the April forecast. Oil markets overnight weakened.

Overnight weather models changed little, with only a slight increase in estimated energy demand. "No major forecast shifts are noted overnight, but we did see some net warmer changes in the Midwest for next week, while some cooler changes hit there for the 11-15 day with building model support for another pattern shift," said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group, in a morning forecast.

Rogers data suggests that there may be some late-April cooling, "for today, though, when combining heating and cooling degree day changes together, we estimate there to be a slight demand gain to the forecast from yesterday, but these changes are all quite small."

Analysts see a relatively balanced market but still see conditions in place that could lead to a price decline of as much as 25 cents. "Weekend updates to the short-term temperature views appeared skewed bearish, particularly within the six-10 day time window where above-normal trends are anticipated across virtually the entire U.S.," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in closing comments to clients Monday.

"As a matter of fact, last week's weather trends appeared mild enough to force a renewed supply injection into storage per Thursday's EIA release. We will be expecting about the same increase that we were forecasting last week, a hike of around 7-9 Bcf. And based on the temperature views, it would appear that some sequential builds will be forthcoming as this month proceeds. We expect additional increases in production to accommodate this process in forcing additional contraction in the supply deficit against five-year average levels.

"All in all, we are maintaining a bearish view as last week's bullish storage injection looks like a one-off that could possibly be partially negated within this week's numbers. Any short positions would represent a hold in anticipation of an eventual decline to the $2.40-2.50 zone where we will anticipate long-term support and a shift to a neutral trading stance," Ritterbusch said.

In overnight Globex trading May crude oil fell 46 cents to $51.68/bbl and May RBOB gasoline fell fractionally to $1.8388/gal.

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