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Storage Versus Seasonality: December Called A Penny Higher

December natural gas is set to open a penny higher Thursday morning at $2.27 as traders focus on the never-ending dichotomy of weather versus storage and hone their projections for Friday's storage report. Overnight oil markets slumped.

Analysts saw the market Wednesday see-sawing between the forces of burdensome inventory and those of seasonal demand with the burdensome inventory camp winning out.

"The market could also said to be consolidating ahead of the DOE storage report for the week ended Nov. 6," said Tim Evans of Citi Futures Perspective in closing comments Wednesday. "The news wire surveys seem to [show a consensus of ] 50-51 Bcf, a minor step down from the 52 Bcf build in the prior week despite warmer than normal temperatures that limited heating demand. Our weather-based model forecasts a significantly higher 78 Bcf refill, which we read as highlighting the risk of a bearish surprise."

Analysts at Energy Metro Desk see a risk the other way, with the current low price regime attracting a much greater power burn and a lower build, in the upper-40 Bcf area.

The Energy Information Administration weekly storage report will be delayed one day to Friday because of the Veterans Day Holiday.

Weather forecasters see little change in GWHDDs, but they also see a risk to the upside for populous eastern markets. "The six-10 day forecast depicts anomalous warmth over the eastern half of the nation and below average temps over the West," WSI Corp. said in its Thursday morning report. "Some upward revisions were made early in the period, but the forecast is colder over the Rockies and central U.S. by day 10. GWHDDs are down 0.3 to 75 for the period.

"Forecast confidence is near average [Thursday] as medium-range models are in reasonably good agreement with the general pattern. However, there are a lot of moving parts within a anomalous, energetic and changeable stretch of weather that hamper confidence levels. The forecast still has room to sway in either direction at this point, especially on a localized basis. There is still a general upside risk over the southern and eastern U.S. The Rockies and central U.S. have a risk to the colder side by the end of the period."

In overnight Globex trading December crude oil fell 57 cents to $42.36/bbl and December RBOB gasoline fell a penny to $1.3014/gal.

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