The expiring November natural gas futures contract is expected to open a penny higher Thursday morning at $2.74 as traders adjust their estimates of ending inventories to account for continued storage builds. Overnight oil markets rose.
Weather forecasters see no major changes but leave open the possibility of a cooler thrust into the Northeast later in the forecast period. "No significant changes are noted over the next 10 days, although the Midwest to South are slightly warmer again while the East Coast is a bit cooler," said Commodity Weather Group in its Thursday morning outlook.
"Another high-pressure area moving across the northern tier next week could usher in another cool wedge of air for the East Coast cities by later in the six-10 day. The American models are more aggressive, with the European on the concept, but both sets of models edged cooler over the past 24 hours," said Matt Rogers, president of the firm.
Storage now stands at a plump 3,836 Bcf, and much of the recent price decline has been premised on continued additions to storage, most likely taking it past last year's record 3,954 Bcf, and stalling any price recovery. If estimates of Thursday's storage addition are correct, storage will end up only about 50 Bcf short of the record.
Last year 67 Bcf was injected, and the five-year pace stands at 76 Bcf. This time around injections are not likely to shrink the ongoing surplus. Analysts at IAF Advisors estimate a 75 Bcf build, and First Enercast is looking for a 70 Bcf increase. A Reuters survey of 20 traders and analysts revealed a sample average of 73 Bcf with a range of 55 to 77 Bcf.
Industry consultant Bentek Energy figures on a 75 Bcf increase using its flow model and notes that the marquee South Central Region experienced a decline in injections from the previous week of 4 Bcf. "Week-over-week, the South Central region is forecast to account for almost all of the decline in the overall Lower 48 storage change at a forecast 34 Bcf injection compared to an EIA announced 38 Bcf injection the week prior."
Tim Evans of Citi Futures Perspective calculates a 76 Bcf build, but more importantly sees injections continuing into mid-November. He is looking for an ending storage inventory of 4,066 Bcf and thinks December futures could test $2.50 depending on weather forecasts.
In overnight Globex trading December crude oil rose 3 cents to $49.21/bbl and December RBOB gasoline added a penny to $1.4785/gal.