December natural gas was set to open Tuesday about a penny lower at around $3.035 as more disagreement between the major weather models clouded the outlook for early December.
The 11-15 day outlook "is exhibiting lower confidence because of the outright clashes and incongruities between the" Global Forecast System (GFS), the European model "and other major temperature forecast models,” PointLogic Energy analyst Alan Lammey wrote in a note to clients Tuesday. “The GFS models are flipping all over the place on a run-to-run basis."
For example, Lammey wrote, “in the last 36 hours, the GFS operational model has shown near coast-to-coast warmth dominating much of the entire U.S….” In a later run it "showed seasonally normal conditions in the eastern half of the nation, followed by another model run depicting downright hot conditions in the East; and then as of Tuesday morning, the GFS had yet another flip to impressive cold blanketing the eastern third of the U.S."
The European model has been "much steadier," showing "a mix of seasonally normal to chilly temperatures in the eastern third of the U.S., while the western half is forecast to see slightly above normal temperatures,” Lammey said.
The milder weather forecast for Nov. 29-Dec. 2 could be "the primary reason weather sentiment is being viewed by the markets as bearish," according to NatGasWeather.com.
"Although we need to be careful here, as we think it's increasingly likely cold shots will return to the northern U.S. around Dec. 3-7, just with more to prove," the firm wrote Tuesday. "Essentially, while weather patterns aren't currently looking cold enough to start December in most of the data, we need to be cautious, as colder trends can quickly show up in the data just ahead of or during the the Thanksgiving holiday, where U.S. markets will be closed."
The Energy Information Administration is set to release this week's storage inventory data on Wednesday ahead of the holiday.
Stephen Smith Energy Associates, in its preliminary estimate, is calling for a draw of 48 Bcf for the week ending Nov. 17.
"Working storage is projected to decrease from 3,772 Bcf to 3,724 Bcf,” Smith analysts wrote. “This week's projected draw of 48 Bcf compares with a seasonally normal weekly draw of 48 Bcf" based on 2006-2010 norms. "This difference yields a storage surplus increase of 0-1 Bcf, from a prior-weeks surplus of 147 Bcf, to a projected Nov. 17 surplus of 148 Bcf (versus a year-ago surplus of 466 Bcf)."
Meanwhile, ICAP Technical Analysis analyst Brian LaRose said the bulls need to act soon to stop the recent slide.
Natural gas is "now within striking distance of critical support at $2.929-2.917,” LaRose wrote following Monday’s settle. “Bulls need to prevent natural gas from slipping beneath this band if they are going to have any shot at generating a recovery in what is left of 2017.” If bulls can't stop the slide "then we need to be prepared to revisit $2.720, or in the worst case, a drop to the $2.520 neighborhood. Bulls are running out of time and room. Fast."
December crude oil was up slightly in early morning trading Tuesday, set to open a few cents higher at around $56.45/bbl. December RBOB Gasoline was up fractionally to $1.7522/gal.