Weekend and Monday physical natural gas prices dropped Friday by double-digits as weather was forecast to cool over the Northeast during the weekend.
Sharp declines in the Northeast, Appalachia and California led the charge lower. Only one point followed by NGI made it to positive territory, and the NGI National Spot Gas Average shed a stout 11 cents to $2.49.
Futures trading was far less exciting, with the spot September contract losing 2.6 cents to $2.774 and October easing 2.7 cents to $2.817. September crude oil rose 55 cents to $49.58/bbl.
Temperatures in major eastern markets were forecast to drop substantially over the weekend. AccuWeather.com predicted Boston's high Friday of 87 degrees would fall to 77 Saturday and reach 74 by Monday. The normal high is 81. Philadelphia's Friday high of 90 was seen easing to 84 Saturday and 79 by Monday, eight degrees below the seasonal norm.
Gas at the Algonquin Citygate plunged 63 cents to $1.94 and gas on Tennessee Zone 6 200 L fell 58 cents to $1.92. Gas on Tetco M-3 Delivery was quoted at $1.53, down 21 cents and parcels bound for New York City on Transco Zone 6 gave up 14 cents to $1.73.
"Over the next several days, much cooler air will spread from the northern Plains and Upper Midwest to the northeastern United States," said AccuWeather.com meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. "The cool, dry air will mark an end to the recent rounds of thunderstorms. However, beyond Friday, one more dose of strong storms will affect part of New England. Drenching storms will slice across parts of the central plains this weekend.
"Energy demands will decrease as the cool air advances. Millions of people will be able to open their windows and turn off air conditioners and fans, and people waiting for a break from the heat and humidity to pursue outdoor projects will get their chance. Despite the cooler air, temperatures will still be high enough for swimming at most Atlantic coast beaches and may only interrupt the same for a couple of days over the Midwest."
Declines at other market points were more benign. Gas at the Chicago Citygate fell 8 cents to $2.68 and gas at the Henry Hub changed hands 2 cents lower at $2.76. Deliveries to El Paso Permian shed 6 cents to $2.47, and gas on Northern Natural Demarcation was seen 8 cents lower at $2.56.
Traders holding positions over the weekend expose themselves to changes in the weather forecasts and although Friday's nominal 2-cent change in the September futures is not a market shaker, analysts see a market where "seller caution could be seen today ahead of a weekend that could bring some major changes to the weather outlooks,” said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates. “[W]e still anticipate a further decline to about the 2.65 area by early next week where expected staunch support could set the stage for a sizable price advance. And despite the reduced importance of” Gulf of Mexico (GOM) “production amidst the shale revolution, we believe that a major tropical storm event into the GOM could pack enough psychological punch to spur a price gain that proves mismatched against any possible loss of supply.
"But while we see high probability of additional slippage to the $2.65 area, we also caution against fresh shorts as upside price possibilities across the rest of this month appear to exceed that to the downside. So, for now, we are maintaining a sidelines stance while also expecting additional price declines of about 15 cents relative to yesterday's settlement," Ritterbusch said.
Noon updates to morning weather model runs changed little. Commodity Weather Group data showed the European Ensemble rising 3.3 cooling degree days (CDDs), the American Ensemble -0.7 CDD, and the Canadian Ensemble -2.3 CDD. Adding the three together gives a rise of just 0.3 CDD or a negligible change in the CDD count. "These can sometimes change by double-digits," Commodity Weather Group said.