May natural gas is expected to open 2 cents higher Friday morning at $2.55 as traders for the moment discount indications of a milder than normal summer and market technicians stand aside. Overnight oil markets were mixed.
According to early forecasts, the summer weather outlook appears mild. Teri Viswanath, director of natural gas strategy at BNP Paribas, noted that during recent weather discussions the "takeaway from the conference was that the early guidance suggested a mild summer ahead. This week's weather forecasts for May indicate that this outlook remains on track. The current 11-15 day forecasts reflect below-normal temperatures in Texas, a trend that is expected to persist through the month. As Texas typically accounts for 18% of total summer utility gas demand, a year/year reduction in cooling demand will likely require additional price-induced demand growth for balancing. Consequently, the prospect of mild weather ahead this summer will likely extend the discount window for natural gas prices."
WSI Corp. in its morning report said, "[Friday's] 11-15 day forecast is warmer than the previous forecast across the East but is not as warm over the central U.S. into the Rockies. Period GWHDDs are up 0.5 to 20.5 for the CONUS. PWCDDs are unchanged near 14.6. Forecast confidence is about average today as medium-range models are in reasonably good agreement with the large-scale pattern.
"The risk is to the cooler side across the West, especially California and the Southwest. The eastern two-thirds of the nation has an upside risk, focused over the Plains and Midwest."
Near term, WSI forecasts Chicago's high Monday of 56 will rise to 64 Wednesday and Friday of next week. The normal high in Chicago this time of year is 64. Dallas' Monday high of 71 is expected to reach 75 Wednesday and 85 Friday, six degrees above normal.
Thursday's 7-cent drop following a modestly bearish EIA storage report did little to change the technical outlook. "Despite the slide, not much changes," said Brian LaRose, a technical analyst at United ICAP. "Bears still need to crack both $2.475 and 2.426-2.409 to signal the down trend is intact. Bulls need to push natgas above $2.655 and 2.759-2.777 to signal a bottom has the potential to take hold. In the meantime, we are stuck in neutral territory. Suggest sitting on our hands until we have some clarity," he said in closing comments Thursday.
In overnight Globex trading June crude oil fell 23 cents to $57.51/bbl and June RBOB gasoline added a penny to $2.0033/gal.