October natural gas is set to open 2 cents lower Friday morning at $2.96 as Irma-related issues inject a greater degree of uncertainty than normal into overnight weather data. Overnight oil markets were narrowly mixed.
"Confidence remains on the lower end of moderate due to uncertainties with the pattern evolution tied to the remnants of Hurricane Irma," said MDA Weather Services in its morning six- to 10-day outlook. "By Day 6 the storm is expected to have degenerated into a weak remnant low over the Mid-South that eventually gets absorbed by an upper trough and pulled out. This keeps belows in the South early in the period with moderation then taking place mid-period. Aboves and much aboves are prevalent early from the Interior West to the Plains with aboves advancing into Texas and the Midwest in the latter part of the period. Models are generally warmer overall.
"The pattern uncertainties tied to the fading remnants of Irma keep confidence more limited than usual, and models are warmer across the Plains and western Midwest, especially the GFS."
Although the market has been confined to a relatively narrow trading range, analysts see a move at least to the upper boundaries of that range.
"While we are maintaining a bullish trading bias, we are not anticipating much upside follow through given an extension of unusually mild temperature forecasts that are now stretching into the shoulder period," said Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates in a morning note to clients. "Although we still anticipate upside to about the $3.14 area per nearby futures, achievement of this target could require some disruption of Gulf of Mexico production activities due to the string of hurricanes currently working across the Atlantic.
"Otherwise, this market will likely remain relegated to a relatively narrow 20 cent trading band through the balance of this month and possibly beyond. Yesterday’s Energy Information Administration storage didn’t spur much price reaction as the 65 bcf injection was much in line with industry expectations. We are maintaining a bullish posture for now and would suggest holding long October positions in quest of a further advance to about the $3.14 level by month’s end."
In overnight Globex trading October crude oil fell 5 cents to $49.04/bbl and October RBOB gasoline inched higher to $1.6630/gal.