June natural gas is set to open 4 cents higher Tuesday morning at $4.73 as traders discount near-term weather and focus on a wider bullish environment. Overnight oil markets rose.
Although shoulder season weather is typically not a market driver, forecasters hint that the summer may be cooler than the burners of the last few years. Joe Bastardi of WeatherBELL Analytics in his Tuesday morning 20-day forecast is utilizing the GFS (Global Forecast System) and in the first five days "sees a trough digging into the West and ridging in the East. In the middle five days a trough translates eastward with colder air replacing warmth, [and] for Days 11-16 and beyond, warmth in the West and a cool East, northern Plains and Great Lakes tries to come out again. [The] pattern becomes much wetter farther west in the Plains."
Bastardi notes cooling forecast by the European model in the 11- to 15-day period. "This is major chill as the normal course for modeling is to get more amplified as you get closer to the time in question as the ensemble members home in on specifics. The pattern grows significantly wet farther west in the Plains, which may be a precursor to the cooler regime I think will get established this summer, relative to the scorching hot summers early in the decade."
Market technicians hint that a near-term market top may be brewing. "With Monday's early advance rejected by the lower bounds of our proposed rising wedge the case for peaking action continues to gain traction," said Brian LaRose, a technical analyst with United ICAP. "However, to confirm a top is in place at $4.852, $4.620-4.611 must be broken. [We] see the A=C objectives from $4.893 (June) as our downside targets if this can be accomplished. 0.618 of "a"="c" cuts at $4.458. "a"="c" targets a double bottom at $4.214," he said in closing comments Monday to clients.
Others also hint that the downside is in play. "Expectations for some cool temps next week might be offering support while mild patterns this week are likely spurring some selling," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates. "Meanwhile, cooling degree days are beginning to take on more importance in some of the southern regions and could contribute to a reduction in this week's storage injection relative to the prior week. We will be looking for a build in the 70-75 Bcf region, a hike that would likely wouldn't exert much price impact. While we ultimately see fresh highs, momentum has shifted from bullish to bearish as a result of some chart damage last week on the technical side and back to back larger than expected supply builds on the fundamental side. Our basic trading theme remains one in which prices will need to remain significantly elevated in order to goose production further and force further switching away from gas toward alternatives such as coal. But, at the same time, we see the market moving into a lull."
In overnight Globex trading June crude oil rose 8 cents to $99.56/bbl and June RBOB gasoline gained a penny to $2.9231/gal.