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Traders Mull Soft Demand, Weak Technicals, Yet Expiring May Called 3 Cents Higher

The expiring May futures contract is expected to open 3 cents higher Wednesday morning at $3.07 even though traders are factoring in not only weak forecast load figures, but also a deteriorating technical picture. Overnight oil markets fell.

Forecasters see a slight cooler bias going forward. "As we move into the final month of meteorological spring, it seems like the consensus among the models is for a cooler lean overall, with special focus toward the middle third of the U.S," said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group, in a morning report to clients.

"[Wednesday's] outlook shifts marginally cooler again in the 1-10 day for the Midwest and South, but more complications emerge from a cool wedge affecting the East Coast this weekend into early next week. We still see Mid-Atlantic 80s this Thu-Fri and also next Monday ahead of the bigger cold front. The West is generally on the drier side for the 6-10 day except for some wetness into southwest Canada."

Marginally cooler notwithstanding, total heating and cooling load in major U.S. markets remains below normal near term. The National Weather Service (NWS) forecasts that for the week ending April 29, New England will see combined degree day (DD) load of 64, or 46 fewer than normal. The Mid-Atlantic should experience 52 DDs or 38 fewer than normal, and the greater Midwest from Ohio to Wisconsin is expected to have 54 DDs, or 41 fewer than its normal tally.

Technical traders are calculating whether a seasonal top is in place. "If $3.347 marked an early seasonal top the downside risk from here is a loss of 36%. From $3.347 a loss of 36% would target the $2.142 level," said Brian LaRose, a technical analyst at United ICAP. "So the question we need to answer, is a seasonal top in place?

"While the short-term trend does appear to be down, bears have not done enough to confirm the seasonal trend is down as well. To do that bears need to force June below $3.048-3.032 and $2.946-2.935-2.928.

Estimates of the week's storage report are coming in around a 70+ Bcf build, ahead of historical averages. An Early View poll of 13 traders and analysts by The Desk revealed an average 71 Bcf with a range of 63 to 77 Bcf. Last year 64 Bcf was injected and the five-year average comes in at a 56 Bcf average increase.

In overnight Globex trading June crude oil fell 45 cents to $49.11/bbl and June RBOB gasoline shed 2 cents to $1.6011/gal.

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