May natural gas is set to open 2 cents higher Thursday morning at $2.63 as traders await a government inventory report that could show additions or decreases. Overnight oil markets plunged.
Assuming that this week's report should show the final withdrawal of the heating season, analysts can now look forward to the impact of production running north of 72 Bcf/d and its effect on inventories and supply.
"Last week, EIA [Energy Information Administration] reported its first net injection of the year; this week's report will show a modest draw, and the following week will feature a second build for 2015," said John Sodergreen, editor of Energy Metro Desk. "It's going to be a tricky few weeks for analysts. Last week's 12 Bcf build was roughly 3 Bcf higher than market expectations. This week the consensus is for a 10- to -11 Bcf draw, but we have a suspicion it may come in a little lower. Our editor actually is quite low at -5 Bcf."
Year-on-five-year deficits should narrow. Last year, 71 Bcf was pulled, and the five-year average is for a 22 Bcf reduction. Bentek Energy sees a pull of 13 Bcf utilizing its flow model, yet Ritterbusch and Associates calculates a 7 Bcf build. A Reuters survey of 25 industry cognoscenti revealed an average 10 Bcf with a range of -17 Bcf to +7 Bcf.
Sodergreen said, "This week's pull will be the season's final hurrah. For sure. Mostly. We're not really calling for a surprise this week, but that said, we're not feeling the -10 to -12 range that folks seem to be focused on. The range between the three categories we track was only 1.9 [Bcf], so no strong sense of surprise. Still, flip-flopping builds and draws gets us anxious. We have a feeling it will be a few points lower than expected this week. And simply because of the flip-flop, a surprise report really wouldn't be a surprise, right?"
Gas buyers will have to deal with typically turbulent springtime conditions, but temperatures are seen fluctuating around seasonal norms.
"Severe thunderstorms may develop across the Midwest and Ohio River Valley on Thursday as a low-pressure system advances eastward over the Great Lakes," said Wunderground.com meteorologist Kari Strenfel. "Flow around this system will continue creating a warm front that will lead the system eastward, while also creating a cold front that will extend southward down the Mississippi River Valley. Moisture pouring in from the Gulf of Mexico will feed energy into these systems, allowing for showers and thunderstorms to develop between these frontal boundaries across the Mississippi River Valley."
Wunderground.com predicts that the high in New York City Thursday of 62 will climb to 65 Friday and ease to 52 on Saturday. The normal high in New York in early April is 56. Chicago's Thursday high of 61 is seen sliding to 49 Friday and climbing back to 57 on Saturday. The seasonal high in the Windy City is 54.
In overnight Globex trading May crude oil fell $1.35 to $48.74/bbl and May RBOB gasoline shed 5 cents to $1.7857/gal.