June natural gas is set to open a penny higher Thursday morning at $3.24 as traders factor in what could be a more prolonged cool shot in the East as well as expected modestly supportive government storage figures. Overnight oil markets plunged.
Weather forecasters admitted that the duration of forecast eastern cool was not fully determined. "There remains uncertainty in this [11-15 day] period as it relates to the breakdown of the -NAO [North American Oscillation] and associated blocking features in the northern Atlantic, and a slower progression [Thursday] has the forecast trending cooler once again in the Eastern Half," said MDA Weather Services in its Thursday morning report to clients.
"Below-normal temperatures are forecast in this region through mid-period but continue to allow for moderation in the latter stages. The West Coast also sees a cooler adjustment, thanks to deeper troughing over the region; and while slight belows are now forecast here, cooler risks are noted among guidance. Warmer leanings are limited to parts of the Central/Rockies.
"Some uncertainty exists with how quickly the cooler anomalies will fade in the Eastern Half, and models suggests this evolution could be slower (a cool risk). Risks are cooler along the West Coast."
Analysts don't see too much in the way of surprises in Thursday's weekly storage report. Last year 68 Bcf was injected, and the five-year average comes in at 63 Bcf. Indications are that the trend of small decreases in the year-on-five-year storage surpluses is intact.
IAF Advisors calculates a 62 Bcf build. A Reuters survey of 21 traders and analysts showed an average 61 Bcf with a range of +50 to +70 Bcf.
"It's another week where we don't foresee too many surprises, but if there is a surprise at all, the tea leaves point to a higher injection and the culprit would be the Midwest region," said John Sodergreen, editor of The Desk. He added that others point to the south-central region for a surprise, a bigger build.
"So it's either going to be in the low- to mid-60s, as per most analysts, or, say, low-70ish Bcf, reflecting poor accounting of Midwest and/or south-central demand,” he said.
In overnight Globex trading June crude oil skidded 95 cents to $46.87/bbl and June RBOB gasoline fell 3 cents to $1.5011/gal.