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Technical Bounce Sends January Natural Gas Sharply Higher Ahead of Open

January natural gas prices were more than 15 cents higher Tuesday morning as the prompt month bounced off resistance after plunging 60 cents during the past two trading sessions and more than $1 from last week’s high.

The Nymex January futures contract was trading at $3.695 at around 8:30 a.m. ET, up 16.7 cents from Monday’s settle, even as weather outlooks showing continued mild weather through the end of the year held firm in overnight model runs.

While a fast-moving cold shot that was forecast to exit the Northeast late Tuesday was expected to leave chilly overnight temperatures in its wake, the cold front was expected to be offset by milder-than-normal conditions elsewhere across the country, according to NatGasWeather.

Additional cold shots were expected across the central and northern United States next week, “but again with the same issue where they won’t be nearly frigid or widespread enough to increase national demand above normal.” Meanwhile, weather systems forecast into the West during the coming weeks were expected to enhance mild high pressure over the important East, and where demand won’t be strong enough to impress, the forecaster said.

NatGasWeather said it continues to look to Dec. 31-Jan. 3 for the next opportunity for mild weather to abate as frigid air over Canada “teases crossing the border, but has yet to prove it will do so aggressively, which will be required if weather sentiment is to flip back bullish. As such, until the weather maps show more impressive cold, any rallies will likely be technically based and have little to do with weather patterns.”

Indeed, Bespoke Weather Services said Tuesday morning’s bounce would likely not result in prices breaking through $3.75. Instead, the long-range cold risks should firm up the floor at $3.50, even if afternoon weather model guidance is less impressive, and balances are not as loose as they could be, the forecaster said.

“Prices did seem to fall a bit quickly recently with production off highs and a large draw expected Thursday, though forecasts are incredibly bearish over the next couple of weeks,” Bespoke chief meteorologist Jacob Meisel said.

Meanwhile, technical indicators show the January contract is poised to decline to $3.44 and possibly as low as $3.35, according to EBW Analytics. Additionally, prices at Henry Hub, which fell to $3.63 Monday, “are likely to decline further later this week as the holiday drop-off in industrial demand nears,” CEO Andy Weissman said.

January crude oil futures were trading $1.18 lower at $48.70, while RBOB Gasoline futures were trading 2.76 cents lower at $1.4104.

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