December natural gas futures were trading 4.1 cents higher at $3.302 shortly before 9 a.m. ET Thursday as forecasters pointed to overnight guidance that continued to show a stretch of above-average heating demand for the second week of November.
The overnight weather data maintained or was trending toward more cold weather for the second week of November, with a series of weather systems and cool shots expected to sweep across the northern, central and eastern United States, according to NatGasWeather.
“Additional reinforcing cool shots are favored Nov. 12-14” as the Global Forecast System and European models have been colder to push national heating degree day expectations above normal after being below normal earlier in the week, the firm said. “Most of the weather data does show a milder pattern setting up Nov. 15-17, although that could trend colder in time as the second week of November has done.
“The natural gas markets have become increasingly sensitive to temperature trends, especially to the cooler side, making each suite of weather data closely scrutinized by the markets,” NatGasWeather said. “No change to our overall view, as the background state remains bullish until deficits considerably improve. We continue to view $3.13-3.14 on December futures as strong support that bears would need to take out to gain control.”
But that would likely require a bearish miss from this week’s storage report, along with milder temperature trends for the second and third weeks of November, according to the firm.
The market is also looking ahead to the 10:30 a.m. ET release of the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) weekly storage report as hefty storage deficits remain only weeks ahead of the core winter season. Estimates this week have clustered around a build in the low 50 Bcf range, which is well below the year-ago 65 Bcf injection and the five-year 62 Bcf build.
EBW Analytics Group projected a build of 48 Bcf, Kyle Cooper of IAF Advisors expected a build of 50 Bcf and Bespoke Weather Services pegged the build at 53 Bcf. A Reuters poll of 22 market participants had a range of 38 Bcf to 60 Bcf, with a median injection of 50 Bcf. A Bloomberg survey showed a range of 42 Bcf to 66 Bcf, with a median of 52 Bcf.
Last week, the EIA reported a 58 Bcf injection, which lifted inventories to 3,095 Bcf.
Looking at the technicals, ICAP Technical Analysis analyst Brian LaRose called Wednesday’s 7.4 cent rally “another constructive day for the bulls,” but said they still need to punch through $3.368/$3.409 to confirm that the recent lows at $3.133/3.100 marked the end of a corrective move.
“Succeed and we will be looking for the December contract to make its way up to the $3.494-3.550 neighborhood next,” LaRose said. “Fail to better the highs and more sideways to lower price action is still possible near-term.”
Shortly before 9 a.m. ET, December crude oil was trading 27 cents lower at $65.04/bbl, while December RBOB gasoline was down fractionally to $1.7512/gal.