November natural gas is set to open unchanged Thursday morning at $2.94 as traders factor in expected lean storage figures into the supply-demand balance. Overnight oil markets rose.
Overnight weather models turned slightly warmer due in large part to factors resulting from a budding tropical system in the western Caribbean. "Forecast changes are in the warmer direction, most notably from the Midwest to the Southeast," said MDA Weather Services in its morning six- to 10-day outlook for clients.
"Some of these adjustments can be attributed to the changing details surrounding what is currently Tropical Depression Sixteen in the western Caribbean, and this disturbance remains one to watch for pattern influences into the early stages of this period across the Eastern Half. Other factors include an increase in pattern amplification during the latter stages, with a deepened trough over the West Coast acting to enhance warm anomalies into the Midcontinent at that time."
Now Tropical Storm Nate at 8 a.m. was located off the eastern coast of Nicaragua and was sporting winds of 40 mph. It was expected to start moving to the northwest later today, and, although early, Nate is projected to eventually reach the Louisiana Mississippi Gulf Coast.
The 10:30 a.m. EDT release of storage figures by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) may provide some short-term bullish surprises, but longer term increased production is likely to provide strong headwinds to any sustained price advance.
The coming winter may hold promise for the natural gas bulls, but production is tracking to grow by about 19%, or 13 Bcf/d, from 2018 to 2020, leading to a bearish landscape for prices, even as demand rises for exports, power burn and the industrial sectors, according to Barclays Capital.
Could this winter be the last running of the bulls? Over the short term, Barclays is predicting that this winter may exceed gas market expectations.
"We believe that the markets are currently not fully pricing in the probability of a colder than normal winter," analyst Nicholas Potter said. "Higher inventory builds following Irma and Harvey, increasing production levels and two mild winters in a row may explain the conservativeness of the current winter curve."
Any way you slice it the storage report is likely to trim the current long term surplus. Last year 76 Bcf was injected and the five-year pace stands at 91 Bcf. Tradition Energy is expecting a 47 Bcf build and Citi Futures calculates a 61 Bcf increase. A Reuters survey of 22 traders and analysts revealed an average 51 Bcf with a range of plus 42 Bcf to plus 68 Bcf.
In overnight Globex trading November crude oil rose 8 cents to $50.06/bbl and November RBOB gasoline gained 2 cents to $1.6012/gal.