October natural gas is set to open a penny higher Wednesday morning at $4.00 as traders discount expected hefty storage builds and assess the likelihood of a technically-based advance. Overnight oil markets rose.
Analysts see Tuesday's gains as possibly portending a seasonal advance. "In our view, however, the [6-cent] rally looked like the market's latest attempt at an upside technical breakout that would represent the kickoff to a more sustained seasonal advance," said Tim Evans of Citi Futures Perspective in closing comments Tuesday. "A report that nuclear plant refueling outages this fall would be the most since 2012 may have also supported the gains.
"[T]his is a time of year without much heating or cooling demand, and substantial storage injections. The consensus on Thursday's DOE storage report for the week ended Sept. 12 is still in development, but early editions of major newswire surveys suggest it is currently in the vicinity of 92-93 Bcf, a bit less than our model's 96 Bcf estimate but still well above the 71 Bcf five-year average for the date. If the market is to extend its push higher, it will also have to do so in the face of some further, seasonally large storage injections well above the five-year average rates."
Evans forecast shows injections building to as high as 129 Bcf for the week of Oct. 3 and the year-on-five-year deficit contracting to 337 Bcf.
"While it is possible for the market to work its way higher in the face of these bearish comparisons on the basis that they have already been discounted into the price, and that storage levels will remain relatively light with winter heating demand just ahead, we continue to see risk that the rally attempt proves premature, with prices breaking back to the downside, and possibly making new lows this time," Evans said.
Evans is looking to buy November natural gas on a limit order at $3.73 and if filled work a protective stop at $3.48.
A technical breakout may just be in the cards. "[We] see $4.028-4.029-4.040-4.051 as the gatekeeper," said Brian LaRose, technical analyst at United ICAP following the market's close Tuesday. "Carve out a top into this zone and we will be looking for an ABC pattern to develop off the $4.101 high. Blow through this zone, and A=C objectives from $3.724 will be our next upside targets [a full] "a"="c" targets 4.132-4.197. 1.618 "a"="c" is up at $4.371. Based on the technicals, the bulls should be able to punch through resistance."
In overnight Globex trading October crude oil fell 23 cents to $94.65/bbl and October RBOB gasoline rose a half cent to $2.5128/gal.