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Long-Range Cooling Seen Easing as August Natural Gas Called Slightly Higher

August natural gas futures were set to open Monday about 1.6 cents higher at around $2.768/MMBtu as forecasters pointed to mixed changes in the weather data over the weekend, including the prospect of less long-range cooling.

Bespoke Weather Services said its running gas-weighted degree day forecast total remained unchanged over the weekend.

“Timing of heat in the medium-range shifted somewhat, and overall we saw some cooler risks arise in the short-term as well,” Bespoke said. “However, these trends were met by trends away from late July cool being as high confidence, as instead some guidance showed heat returning after a cool shot focused around July 27.

“...August natural gas prices declined earlier this morning on a European model run that trended significantly cooler, though on net to Friday it was just a touch cooler,” the firm said. “Prices are bouncing since then on increased long-range heat risks, however, as production appears to have dipped slightly as well. Combined with weather-adjusted power burns that have remained very tight this would seem to allow for a small short-term bounce,” potentially towards resistance at $2.80-2.83.

Radiant Solutions said its latest six- to 10-day forecast Monday trended slightly cooler, “with these adjustments being associated with onshore flow early along the East Coast and along high pressure late in the Midwest. These areas are forecast to average the period in the normal category; although, belows are seen in parts of the Midwest late while unsettled conditions limit heat threats in the East.”

In the 11-15 day period, Radiant said the eastern half of the country is expected to average near normal.

Compared to Sunday’s forecast, “cooler changes were made here; and while the Midwest leans cooler from Friday’s expectations as well, the East is slightly warmer,” the firm said. “Warm changes were made from the West towards Texas, where above normal coverage persists under strong ridging aloft and continued dryness.”

Estimates for this week’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report point to a leaner-than-average build for the week ended July 13. The Desk’s Early View storage survey on Friday showed 13 respondents on average expecting EIA to report a 55.4 Bcf build, with a median of 59 Bcf. Intercontinental Exchange EIA Financial Weekly Index futures settled Friday at an injection of 54 Bcf.

Last year, EIA recorded a 31 Bcf injection, and the five-year average is a build of 62 Bcf.

With heat in the East forecast to fade this week, “the market is treating summer as if it were over,” EBW Analytics Group CEO Andy Weissman said. “Notably, from a supply/demand point, the August-November contracts arguably are fairly priced, with projected mid-November storage already at minimal levels.

“At this point in the cycle, however, supply/demand fundamentals are not necessarily the primary factor driving the market,” Weissman said. As projected cooling load eases off it will put downward pressure on spot prices, with “no obvious catalyst in sight to trigger a rally. The most likely scenario, therefore, is that futures will continue to erode, potentially pulling end-of-injection season storage to the lowest level in many years.”

August crude oil was set to open about $1.51 lower at around $69.50/bbl, while August RBOB gasoline was trading about 4.5 cents lower at around $2.0620/gal.

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