February natural gas futures were trading 4.6 cents higher at $2.990/MMBtu shortly before 9 a.m. ET Tuesday as forecasters pointed to further signs overnight of cold weather returning later this month.
Bespoke Weather Services viewed overnight model trends as bullish, with all models now showing “significant cold risks” by the end of the Week 2 outlook period and into Week 3. Models were consistent with a negative Eastern Pacific Oscillation ridge forming upstream, and they showed early signs of a negative North Atlantic Oscillation by Jan. 20 that could “force much colder air” down into the eastern United States, the forecaster said.
“We are maintaining our slightly bullish sentiment from yesterday as we see weather model guidance as far more supportive today and see the potential for prices to extend a bounce above the $3 level,” Bespoke said. “Cash prices may be initially weak but should firm up with cold arriving tomorrow, and tomorrow cash should be far stronger as well, which could help the front of the strip run.”
Radiant Solutions pointed to colder changes to its latest six- to 10-day and 11-15 day forecasts Tuesday. Colder trends in the six- to 10-day period were focused from the West toward the Central United States.
“This comes as ridging is stronger over Western Canada and Alaska versus previous expectations, weakening what remains a prominent Pacific originating air flow into North America,” Radiant said. “The result remains a warmer than normal pattern nationally that includes much aboves in the period composite in the North-Central. The East Coast and South have mixed results, including an early round of below normal temperatures being replaced by aboves late.”
Meanwhile, the forecaster noted colder trends early in the 11-15 day period in the Midwest and East.
“Overall, the large scale pattern remains warmer than normal, with enhanced storminess out of the western-tropical Pacific likely having a role in this,” Radiant said. “The European model gains favorability in its handling of the tropical forcing and what has been a cold bias among guidance in recent weeks. The result is a period holding onto above normal coverage from parts of the West toward Central, but with readings that are closer to normal in the South and East.”
Looking at the technicals, analysts with Rafferty Commodities Group observed “more sideways price action or consolidation” during Monday’s session, with the market turning in an “inside day” as the range never ventured beyond the highs and lows established in trading Friday.
“While we favor a conclusion of the sideways pattern with an eventual break to the downside, we want to trade the market” against support and resistance levels “until the market can break and close beyond one of the parameters of the sideways pattern” from $2.867 up to $3.104, Rafferty analysts said.
The Rafferty team listed its major resistance levels heading into Tuesday’s session at $3.049 and $3.104, with minor resistance at $2.999. The firm pegged minor support at $2.870, with major support at $2.850.
February crude oil futures were up 73 cents to $49.25/bbl shortly before 9 a.m. ET, while February RBOB gasoline was up about 1.3 cents to $1.3542/gal.