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Traders Mull Uninspired Weather, Technicals; October Called A Penny Higher

October natural gas is expected to open a penny higher Monday morning at $3.85 as traders digest both a weather pattern and technical outlook showing little likelihood of major price moves. Overnight oil markets were mixed.

WeatherBELL Analytics in its Monday morning 20-day Energy Outlook calls for troughs and ridges with some possible "mischief'" impacting the Gulf Coast, but bottom line for the next two weeks accumulations of both heating degree days (HDD) and cooling degree days (CDD) are forecast to be more than 40% below normal.

Joe Bastardi, meteorologist at WeatherBELL, predicts that a "trough comes and goes in the East in the front five days, [and] a major ridge balloons into the East in six-10 day. Watch the Gulf/Southeast coast in six-10 day [and look for a] Western cool pool develop[ing] in week two. It will try to send cooler air eastward, but a core of warmth develops in the East for the first two weeks of October.

"The day six pattern opens the Gulf up for possible tropical mischief, and plenty of chilly air starts invading the West in the six-10 day and holds after that, fighting its way into the Plains, but moderating rapidly eastward." By day 12, "I would look for cooling out of the major western chill to come out eastward, but modify greatly (more so than what just happened). Remember the warmth spreading through southern Canada in the six-10 day is near record, so it will cool down. The major point is that the East should be biased toward warmth and the West biased toward cool."

For the next two weeks WeatherBELL forecasts a total national accumulation of 73 CDD and HDD. This is far less than last year's combined total of 109.8 and the 30-year average of 126.8 (CDD and HDD).

The recent range-bound trading has been characterized as "trench warfare" with prices oscillating within well defined boundaries. "Gone are the powerful, sweeping multi-month price trends that had dominated natgas from Nov 2013 into Aug 2014," said Walter Zimmermann of United ICAP in a weekly note to clients.

"Instead, we are left with a static, trench warfare and a very narrow 'no-man's land.' Still, peg this no-man's land to the space between $4.050 resistance and $3.780 support. In the bigger picture still peg $4.380 pivotal, long term resistance and $4.380 key, long-term support. By the way, this style of congestion this time of the year has always been bottoming action. So bears beware."

Tom Saal, vice president at INTL FC Stone, in his work with Market Profile is looking for the market to test last week's value area at $4.013 to $3.897 and "maybe" test $4.418 to $4.326 "if time permits." October options trading ends Thursday and the October futures contract expires Friday.

In overnight Globex trading October crude oil added 16 cents to $92.57/bbl and October RBOB gasoline fell 2 and a half cents to $2.5857/gal.

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