August natural gas is expected to open a penny higher Thursday morning at $3.08 as traders mull a weather picture calling for a cool New England with a warm West. Overnight oil markets rose.
Weather forecasts did not change much overnight as near-term temperatures are expected cool in New England and warm over the West. "No significant changes are made to the forecast in this period, which continues to feature a round of below normal temperatures accompanying high pressure into the East early and lingering along the New England coast into mid-period," said MDA Weather Services in its morning six- to 10-day forecast for clients.
"While much of the Midwest is also on the cool side of normal at the onset, a round of slight aboves are forecast in the mid-period out ahead of a frontal boundary. Above normal temperatures look to be most steadily focused in the Interior West and California, with even the Southwest seeing those warmer anomalies late as ridging further builds near the region."
Traders attribute Wednesday's 2-cent setback to booking gains ahead of Thursday's inventory report. "The U.S. natural gas gave back some of its recent gains on Wednesday in light profit taking off the recent rally ahead of Thursday's DOE [Department of Energy] storage report, even though consensus expectations for 32-33 Bcf in net injections for the week ended July 14 would be well below the 59 Bcf five-year average refill," said Tim Evans of Citi Futures Perspective in closing comments Wednesday.
Evans is looking for a build of 36 Bcf in Thursday's Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report, a touch higher than the consensus. A Reuters survey of 23 traders and analysts showed an average 32 Bcf with a range of +21 Bcf to +47 Bcf. Last year 38 Bcf were injected and the five-year pace stands at 59 Bcf.
Ritterbusch and Associates is looking for a build of 47 Bcf, at the high end of expectations. The firm "feels that Thursday's EIA storage report will offer a bearish figure that could potentially push nearby futures back to below the $3.00 level," he said in a report Tuesday. "Our expected injection will likely prove significantly larger than most street ideas as we anticipate that the prior week's much smaller than normal build [57 Bcf] will see some upward adjustment.".
In overnight Globex trading August crude oil rose 34 cents to $47.46/bbl and August RBOB gasoline gained a penny to $1.6278/gal.