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June natural gas is set to open 2 cents higher Wednesday morning at $3.25 as traders study weather forecasts calling for concerted summer heat as well as Thursday's anticipated lean inventory report. Overnight oil markets rose.
Forecasters are forming their summer outlook, and the early call is for a warmer than normal summer and increased demand for natural gas.
The major weather feature is the transition from a mild La Nina this past winter to neutral to weak El Nino conditions, and according to Natgasweather.com sea surface temperatures (SST) have warmed slightly, but "we don't expect they will warm much more going into the core summer months, and thus, to our view, should have limited influences on summer weather patterns across the U.S.,” it said.
"We expect upper-level high pressure will become stronger than normal during the core summer months, resulting in occasional heatwaves, including at times, impacting the important southern and eastern U.S.
"Overall, our analysis suggests heatwaves have a higher statistical probability of occurring this year compared to normal, focused over the period July 11 to Aug. 11.
"If this were to prove true, and as long as the structurally tight background supply/demand environment continues, as we expect, this should result in most weekly storage builds being lighter than five-year averages, eventually flipping current surpluses of +275 Bcf to deficits of -160 to -240 Bcf by early November."
Maybe $3.50 natural gas futures are not to be, at least in the short run.
"The natural gas market extended its recent decline on Tuesday as a somewhat cooler temperature forecast was seen undercutting power sector demand," said Tim Evans of Citi Futures Perspective in closing comments Tuesday.
Polls of traders and analysts show the trend of last week's thin 45 Bcf storage build continuing. The data show the week's storage build coming in well below seasonal norms. In its Early View survey The Desk found an average 59 Bcf in a poll of 12 traders and analysts. Last year 71 Bcf was injected and the five-year average comes in at 87 Bcf. The range on the survey was 52 Bcf to 64 Bcf.
In overnight Globex trading June crude oil added 21 cents to $48.87/bbl and June RBOB gasoline rose a penny to $1.6102/gal.