May natural gas was set to open Wednesday near even at around $2.697 as weather guidance remained mostly unchanged overnight with above-normal heating demand expected through next week and a warming trend after.
“The latest overnight data held colder trends across the northern U.S. for next week but was warmer trending April 12-18, still advertising a more seasonal pattern with a mix of warm and cool days,” NatGasWeather.com said. “...The weather has been colder trending for next week going back several days, and yet again the markets have failed to react higher off it. To our view, bullish patterns to justify higher prices are coming to an end as the pattern transitions to neutral or slightly bearish after next week.”
Bespoke Weather Services said its gas-weighted degree day forecast remained roughly the same overnight, noting “a couple losses in the next few days and in the long-range are canceled out by further gains from April 8-11.”
The firm said it sees “downside for prices through the week as balance remains loose and weather looks to trend less impressive through April. We are still not ready to have our sentiment turn bearish due to what will be very impressive cold over the weekend and into early next week, and this could keep cash prices bid and push prices back up towards $2.72 or even $2.75 resistance.”
But Bespoke said it would expect “prices to be a sell there,” noting expectations for storage withdrawals the next two weeks that “still are not all that tight given how impressive weather is.”
Intercontinental Exchange futures for Thursday’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report settled at a withdrawal of 23 Bcf Tuesday. OPIS by IHS Markit said it expects a withdrawal of 27 Bcf from U.S. gas stocks for the week ending March 30, 36 Bcf looser than the prior week’s report “owing to warmer weather across the Lower 48 and a significant drop in heating demand.
“The above average withdrawal would reduce inventories to 1,356 Bcf and reduce the storage deficit against the five-year average to 345 Bcf,” OPIS analysts said. “For the gas week ending April 6, net withdrawals are expected to drop to 21 Bcf as temperatures continue to warm across” the country.
Meanwhile, ICAP Technical Analysis analyst Brian LaRose said Tuesday that “as this is the time of year that we are typically looking for a preseason rally in natural gas ahead of summer cooling demand I am still inclined to favor an extended period of sideways to higher price action despite this week’s set back.
“To change the narrative and open the door for a round of fresh lows the bears would need to force natural gas beneath $2.627-2.614,” LaRose said. “Bears have no case otherwise.”
May crude oil was set to open about 96 cents lower at around $62.55/bbl, while May RBOB gasoline was trading about 1.6 cents lower at around $1.9582/gal.