The quiet session that characterized natural gas trading ahead of the weekend persisted into Monday as the Nymex April gas futures contract was set to open less than a penny higher at around $2.694. With only small changes in weather outlooks, traders appeared content to hold positions intact until more significant differences arise in forecasts.
Late last week, the global weather model trended milder for March 24-28, while the European model remained colder than the rest of the data. During the weekend, however, the European model trended a little milder to become better in line with the rest of the data March 25-29, according to NatGasWeather. Although, for Easter weekend, March 31-April 2, most of the data favors cool air returning across the northern one-third of the United States, but mild to warm over the southern two-thirds of the country.
“Overall, the weather data isn’t too much different than what was advertised late last week other than the European model trending a little milder March 25-29 across the North and East,” the weather forecaster said. “This could be reason enough for a few cents lower open.” But with cold systems this week into the West and East, and with the potential for colder-than-normal conditions returning across the northern United States late this morning into early April, there will remain at least some periods of stronger demand, it said.
NatGasWeather continues to view the $2.71-2.72 level for April futures as important since this level has showed both support and resistance, with prices dropping back below it late last week after a brief break above it. “To our view, bulls would need to reclaim this level convincingly to wrestle control away from bears,” it said.
A more supportive report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration is expected to be announced Thursday, with another large print expected next week that the market may not have yet priced in given expectations for significant cold this week (and lower cash prices last Friday), Bespoke Weather Services analysts said.
“We are worried about cash weakness early today initially pulling prices back into support from $2.65-2.68, though we would expect that level to hold as did $2.71-2.72 when tested today,” Bespoke said in a pre-open note to clients Monday. “This still seems likely to be Bespoke’s range for the day, although if cash prices stabilize and weather forecasts can add any more heating degree days, “we should see $2.75 back in play again.”
April crude oil was set to open about a penny lower at around $62.27/bbl, while April RBOB gasoline was down fractionally at around $1.9455/gal.