October natural gas is expected to open 2 cents lower Thursday morning at $2.92 as traders mull weather reports calling for cooling at eastern points in the wake of Tropical Depression Harvey as well as a storage report expected to show below normal increases. Overnight oil markets rose.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in its 4 a.m. CDT report said Tropical Depression Harvey was expected to be dissipated by Saturday when it reaches the lower Ohio Valley. At present it is located 15 miles south of Monroe, LA, and was holding winds of 30 mph. It was moving towards the northeast and is expected to continue this motion over the next 48 hours. On this track Harvey would hit northwest Mississippi Thursday afternoon, the western Tennessee Valley region on Friday and the lower Ohio Valley early Saturday.
Meanwhile NHC also reported that Tropical Storm Irma was ready to make the leap to hurricane status soon. At 4 a.m. CDT it was located 590 miles west of the Cabo Verde Islands, and a west-northwestward motion is expected today and tonight, followed by a generally westward motion on Friday. Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 70 mph with higher gusts. Additional strengthening is forecast, and Irma is likely to become a hurricane later today.
All eyes will likely move from weather forecasts to trading screens when the Energy Information Administration (EIA) releases inventory figures at 10:30 a.m. EDT. The trend has been for the year-on-five-year surplus to lessen and that is expected to continue with the release of Thursday's figures. Last year 46 Bcf was injected and the five year pace is for 67 Bcf. This week's estimates don't come anywhere close.
Citi Futures Perspective calculates a 35 Bcf injection, and Ritterbusch and Associates is looking for a 29 Bcf build. A Reuters survey of 19 traders and analysts showed a 32 Bcf average with a range of plus 27 Bcf to plus 50 Bcf.
Natgasweather.com said their "algorithm predicts a build of plus 33 Bcf, likely to be viewed as neutral to slightly bearish."
In overnight Globex trading October crude oil rose 10 cents to $46.06/bbl and October RBOB gasoline added 4 cents to $1.6802/gal.