May natural gas is expected to open a penny lower Monday morning at $3.25 as traders can find little in the way of positive weather developments and market sentiment begins to shift lower. Overnight oil markets gained.
Forecasters saw little change in their weather data over the weekend. "The weekend models drifted around with [Sunday] morning leaning toward the demand gain side and yesterday afternoon tilted flat or a slight loss," said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group, in a morning report to clients.
"Last night edged a bit cooler on the European ensemble across the Midwest and Northeast, especially for the 11-15 day, as the main warmth remains more focused -- and a bit stronger at times -- along the southern tier. Adding a few more southern CDDs along with a few more northern HDDs helps to inch the overall total degree day count higher in the 11-15 day, although some warmer Midwest changes in the 6-10 day provide equivalent offset to keep us near flat."
According to data from the National Weather Service (NWS), heating loads in major energy markets are expected to be sharply below normal. NWS says that for the week ended April 15, HDDs in New England are expected to reach just 71, a whopping 74 below normal, and the Mid-Atlantic is predicted to see just 60 HDDs, or 65 fewer than its normal accumulation. The greater Midwest from Ohio to Pennsylvania should endure just 51 HDDs, or 76 fewer than its normal seasonal tally. No cooling degree days were forecast for New England, the Mid-Atlantic or the Midwest.
Futures traders are not optimistic on further upside price potential. "I'm bearish on the market," said John Woods, president of JJ Woods and Associates, on Friday. "We traded up to $3.34 [Friday], but I look at the fund buying earlier, as the funds getting out. If you had a rash of buying coming in, you would see a continuation, and that did not happen.
"Our contract high is $3.50, and the reason it didn't run like crazy was the existing longs decided it was a good place to sell. You can't make contract highs on a shoulder season. Temperatures in the East are going to be in the 60s and 70s, and just a couple of weeks ago we were under $3 and everyone was talking lower. In the winter we got below $2.60, and I said, 'No way.’”
The early read on the week's storage report comes in at about the long term average. The Desk Early View survey asked 13 traders and analysts and the average was 9 Bcf with a range of +5 Bcf to +15 Bcf. Last year 1 Bcf was withdrawn, and the five-year average is for at 12 Bcf build, according to The Desk.
In overnight Globex trading May crude oil rose 62 cents to $52.86/bbl and May RBOB gasoline gained fractionally to $1.7552/gal.