February natural gas was set to open Monday about 3 cents higher at around $2.829, with the prompt-month finding support from colder changes to the medium-term weather outlook.
MDA Information Systems LLC said in its latest six- to 10-day forecast that "stronger high pressure driving southward and into the Midcontinent early and points eastward later on has changes being in the colder direction” over the period versus Sunday's forecast and "expectations” before the weekend.
"Strongly below-normal temperatures are now forecast under this air mass to start the period in the Midwest, with much belows nearing the East Coast in the mid-period," MDA said. "A deepening low tracking into the Gulf of Alaska lends warmer Pacific flow into the West, with downslope winds off of the Rockies enhancing these warmer anomalies into the Plains at period's end."
Bespoke Weather Services said the weekend changes over the next 15 days offered "bearish and bullish trends arriving at various times that appear to cancel out." The East Coast should warm up more than previously expected this week, the firm said.
"However, a cold shot around Jan. 14-15 intensified greatly" over the weekend, "with a couple days of very elevated heating demand expected before warmth moves back in across the country," Bespoke said. "...We are concerned that the next strong cold shot again comes over a holiday weekend, lessening the impact for the third time recently, and that has kept us from seeing as much upside off these medium-term colder trends.”
Bespoke said it was looking at $2.88-2.92 as resistance Monday with $2.75 as support, "though that could break this week on any warmer trends."
Analyst Brian LaRose of ICAP Technical Analysis said after Friday's close to "peg $2.681-2.646 as the lowest levels consistent with any corrective retreat. If the bulls are going to have any shot at a late seasonal recovery they must prevent the February contract from slipping beneath this zone.
"Fail to do so and we will be forced to set our sights on lower levels," LaRose said. "We have two potential downside targets in this case. The first cuts at $2.434. The second is down at $2.134-2.024-1.964."
February crude oil was set to open about 25 cents higher Monday at around $61.69/bbl, while February RBOB gasoline was up fractionally at around $1.7901/gal.