April natural gas is set to open 4 cents lower Thursday morning at $1.64 as weather models are in greater agreement on forecast warm patterns and traders hone short-term trading algorithms in preparation for the release of government storage figures. Overnight oil markets fell.
Weather models are coming into sharper agreement, thus giving greater confidence that the warm patterns will continue. Commodity Weather Group in its Thursday morning report said, "We continue to track an impressive story rivaled only by December's persistent warmth in terms of widespread above normal temperature intensity and duration.
"The models continue to be in impressive agreement on the prevailing pattern, too, which is helping to boost our forecast confidence to fairly high levels for both the six-10 and 11-15 day. The six-10 day remains the warmest of the two periods, but there are concerns continue that the 11-15 day could ultimately surprise even warmer, too, given the prevailing pattern situation," said Matt Rogers, president of the firm.
The 10:30 a.m. EST release of government storage figures is expected to show a huge increase in both year-on-year and year-on-five-year surpluses. Currently, storage stands at a lofty 2,584 Bcf, or 577 Bcf above the five-year average. Last year a stout 227 Bcf was withdrawn, and the five-year average pull comes in at 137 Bcf. Expectations for Thursday's report come nowhere close.
IAF Advisors calculates a 39 Bcf withdrawal, and Bentek Energy is looking for a 37 Bcf decline. A Reuters poll of 22 traders and analysts revealed an average 41 Bcf draw with a range from -32 to -65 Bcf.
Tom Saal, vice president at FCStone Latin America LLC in his work with Market Profile said to "look at Monday/Tuesday breakdown weekly targets...we are seeing a combination of weak front month prices and stronger forward carry...be aware of this situation (not a trend yet)." Saal places the 50% weekly breakdown target at $1.640 and the 100% target at $1.595.
In overnight Globex trading April crude oil fell 25 cents to $34.41/bbl and April RBOB gasoline eased a penny to $1.2961/gal.