October natural gas was ready to open a penny higher Wednesday morning at $2.59 as traders see little in the way of prominent market drivers and focus on Thursday's storage report. Overnight oil markets rose.
Overnight weather model data came in a little milder. In its morning outlook, forecaster WSI Corp. said, "The six-10 day period forecast is once again cooler, or not as warm as previous forecasts across the northern Plains, Midwest into the East. The western U.S. is generally warmer. PWCDDs are up 1.3 to 23.7. HDDs are up to 9.2. Forecast confidence has improved [Wednesday] and can be considered average at best. Medium-range models have come into better agreement, but there are still differences due in part to tropical activity.
"The forecast still has room to swing in either direction at this point given the model spread. The general trend and an amplified pattern support a slight risk to the cooler side over the East and West. The central U.S. and Rockies could run even warmer."
At 5:00 a.m. EDT, the National Hurricane Center said an indecisive Tropical Storm Ida was hovering 1,045 miles east of the Leeward Islands. It was holding winds of 45 mph and was drifting to the south at 2 mph. It presented "a limited threat to U.S. natgas interests," according to Natgasweather.com.
Going into Thursday's Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report, at least one analyst is looking for a hefty triple-digit build but does not advise selling the market ahead of the report. Industry consensus is starting to gel around a 95-98 Bcf increase, but Tim Evans of Citi Futures Perspective calculates a build of 108 Bcf.
"[Industry estimates] would be a near match with the 96 Bcf build a year ago but moderately bearish relative to the 83 Bcf five-year average refill for the date," he said. "Our model projects a somewhat larger 108 Bcf gain, which we view as some risk of a bearish surprise, but not enough reason to sell ahead of the report."
Tom Saal, vice president at FC Stone Latin America LLC, in his work with the Market Profile expects the market to test Tuesday's value area at $2.590-2.578. Market Profile methodology is a breakout system from an initial balance, which Saal currently places at $2.550-2.597. Targets higher include $2.621 and $2.644 on the upside and $2.527 and $2.503 on the downside. Saal said the market could test a second value area at $2.632 to $2.614.
In overnight Globex trading November crude oil added 31 cents to $46.67/bbl and November RBOB gasoline gained fractionally to $1.4002/gal.