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Expiring March Called Higher as Forecasts Show Colder Transition Starting Next Week

March natural gas was set to open Monday about 3 cents higher at around $2.660 as forecasters continue to watch for colder temperatures arriving next week. April was set to open about 4 cents higher at around $2.699.

“Weather guidance over the weekend shifted rather significantly colder through portions of the medium- and long-term before a few last-minute warm trends kicked back in overnight,” Bespoke Weather Services told clients Monday.

“While the gas-weighted degree day forecast is actually a touch lower than it was on Friday, we still see the impacts of the forward forecast as slightly bullish,” given expectations near-normal heating demand over the next two weeks “and higher confidence in a transition to this colder regime coming in the next seven days.”

Bespoke said the higher forecast confidence is supportive for prices and could help March, which is scheduled to expire Monday, “finish pushing one leg higher into the $2.70-2.75 range” before rolling off the board.

NatGasWeather.com said in its Monday report it still expects the eastern U.S. ridge to keep cold from pushing into the East to weaken beginning next weekend (March 2-5) “as a weather system tracks through, but this system held milder trends going back to last week as it fails to tap much subfreezing air. However, the data is still on board with more impressive reinforcing cold blasts March 6-11.

“...Simply put, the pattern through March 5 is likely to be viewed by the markets as not quite cold enough, but then cold enough March 6-11, and then uncertain after.”

Radiant Solutions said Monday its 11-15 day (March 8-12) forecast trended colder, including “a pattern featuring cold conditions from the Northwest to the Midcontinent and South. Meanwhile, the associated blocking high keeps cold out of the Northeast for the most part.

“Models diverge more notably in this period, showing a similar pattern shape but with the Global Forecast System promoting much greater coverage and intensity of cold than the European, while our forecast lies in between.”

From a technical standpoint, analysts with Rafferty Commodities Group said they still see the March contract as “trading in a sideways consolidation pattern, but it looks like it is trying to find a bottom...Friday’s price action has us eyeing the $2.677 and $2.695 areas as upside targets.”

April crude oil was set to open about 19 cents lower at around $63.36, while March RBOB gasoline was up fractionally at around $1.8101/gal.

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