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October natural gas was trading about 3 cents lower at $3.040 in the opening minutes Friday as traders mull only minimal changes to the near-term temperature outlook. Overnight oil markets eased.
Overnight weather models were little changed. "The latest 11-15 day period forecast is similar to [Thursday's] forecast. Changes are mixed and small, but on average a touch warmer," said WSI Corp. in its morning report to clients. "CONUS PWCDDs are up only up 0.2 for Days 11-14 and are forecast to be 27.5 for the period. CONUS GWHDDs are down 1.3 to 2.7, which are 6.5 below average."
WSI cautioned that "various scenarios with Irma and the details over northern Pacific could cause the forecast to waver in either direction, especially on a regional basis. The greatest risks for warmer changes are over the northern state. The Northwest has a cooler risk.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in its 5 a.m. EDT report said Hurricane Irma was located 840 miles west northwest of the Cabo Verde Islands and was holding 115 mph winds. Irma is moving toward the west-northwest near 12 mph, and a turn toward the west is expected by tonight, followed by a turn toward the west-southwest on Saturday. The storm was expected to remain a powerful hurricane throughout the weekend, NHC said.
Traders are looking for a continued move higher, but don't expect much of an advance within the next few trading sessions. "[Y]esterday's price up spike to above expected resistance at the $3.03 level reinforced our near term bullish sentiment, but we are not expecting much upside follow through during the next few sessions," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in a morning note to clients.
"However, we still expect eventual advance to the $3.14 level and we suggest maintaining any long October holdings established within the $2.90-2.95 zone during the past week. We have suggested raising stop protection to the $2.92 level. While we feel that further injection of storm premium is possible, we also believe that hurricane Harvey has proven that any disrupted supply could easily be accompanied by demand destruction that would minimize price response.
"But, at the same time, the likelihood that a storage deficit will be developing this month is a bullish consideration that will be restricting selling interest in allowing the futures to ratchet higher especially if some shale related production recovers at a slower than expected pace."
Tom Saal, vice president at FCStone LLC in Miami in his work with Market Profile expects the market to test Thursday's value area at $3.045 to $2.948 and says the market "could test" as high as the 50% breakout target at $3.057. Beyond that he says the market "should test" $3.117 to $3.077 "then test" $2.863 to $2.831.
In overnight Globex trading October crude oil dropped 15 cents to $47.08/bbl and October RBOB gasoline shed 4 cents to $1.7360/gal.