Daily GPI / Markets

Cold Is Coming; January Called 14 Cents Higher

January natural gas is expected to open 14 cents higher Monday morning at $3.58 as more deferred weather forecasts turned sharply colder. Overnight oil markets rose.

Weather models turned significantly colder in the more deferred periods. "[Monday's] 11-15 day period is colder than Friday's forecast for days 11-12, especially over the north-central U.S. and Canada," said WSI Corp. in its Monday morning report to clients. "The Southwest and southern tier are a bit warmer. CONUS GWHDDs are now up 3.4 for those two days and are now forecast to be 156 for the whole period.

"Even with the latest changes to the forecast there is a greater colder risk versus warmer risk for the northern and eastern U.S. The West, mainly California and the Southwest have warmer risks."

Near-term heating loads are forecast to be about average. For the week ending Dec. 10 the National Weather Service (NWS) predicts that New England will see 240 heating degree days (HDD), or three fewer than normal. The Mid-Atlantic is expected to experience 200 HDD, or seven fewer than its normal tally, and the greater Midwest from Ohio to Wisconsin is anticipated to endure 241 HDD, or five more than its seasonal norm.

Barclay's Commodities sees a sharp decline in storage. "The natural gas market got a big boost [last] week as December weather forecasts turned colder," said Nicholas Potter, an analyst with Barclays Commodities, in a note to clients.

"This should be the first burst of cold, marking the true start to the winter of 2016-2017 heating season. As the cold hits, storage withdrawals should pick up further, aided by higher year/year export levels and lower production. The market should read this fast pace of withdrawals as bullish. By the end of December, we forecast storage inventories will be below 2015 levels for the first time this year and within striking range of the five-year average."

Drilling rigs just keep coming back. Texas and the Permian Basin again led among states and plays, respectively, in the return of U.S. land-based drilling rigs, according to the Baker Hughes Inc. weekly rig count.

In overnight Globex trading January crude oil rose 50 cents to  $52.18/bbl and January RBOB gasoline gained fractionally to $1.5626/gal.

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