With small adjustments to the weather outlook overnight and a probable lack of upside for prices as near-term cold subsides, natural gas futures were trading slightly lower early Wednesday. The April Nymex futures contract was down 1.9 cents to $2.865/MMBtu shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET.
Radiant Solutions noted “similar themes” in its latest six- to 10-day forecast compared to Tuesday’s outlook.
“This includes a pair of disturbances that deepen a trough over the West during the early stages before sending energy downstream into the Eastern Half,” the forecaster said. “...A colder air mass also supplies a day or two of belows during the early stages from the Midwest to East, but ahead of a storm tracking through are aboves at mid-period in the eastern Midwest and along the East Coast late.”
As for Radiant’s 11-15 day outlook, “below normal temperatures are common in the Plains, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and South during this time frame, and the forecast trends additionally colder in these details versus yesterday’s outlook. Any above normal coverage is along the West Coast and in parts of Canada.”
Bespoke Weather Services viewed the overnight weather data as somewhat bearish trending, with warmer changes focused in the medium-range. Models still showed “another decent cold shot” moving in around March 16 before giving way to warmer conditions once more.
“Generally, Week 2 looks to have similar cold to last year, with cold focused in the Midwest but some of it able to move into the East,” with a broad positive Pacific/North American teleconnection pattern upstream, Bespoke said. “The Arctic connection appears limited, restricting cold from being nearly as intense as we see in the short-term, and storms cutting across the middle of the country can provide significant warmth to the East as well.”
Based on recent Madden-Julian oscillation trends, the firm sees “risks skewed a bit warmer with forecasts moving forward,” but net gas-weighted degree days are expected to come in “decently above average” through the 15-day forecast period.
“Our sentiment is turning slightly bearish this morning, as we see strong resistance from $2.90-2.92 that increasingly appears likely to hold,” with cash prices falling Tuesday and expected to continue easing off Wednesday as “forecasts moderate somewhat and balances gradually loosen,” Bespoke said.
Forecasts advertising cooler-than-normal weather later this month helped the April contract move slightly higher Tuesday, noted EBW Analytics Group CEO Andy Weissman.
“As has been true for the past two weeks, gains were muted, due to both a lack of any storage deficiency risk and basic oversupply condition in the gas market,” Weissman said. “At this point, the main issues for natural gas are how quickly and how far cash market prices will fall.”
After rallying above $4 on Monday, Henry Hub day-ahead prices gave back most of those gains Tuesday, falling $1.020 to average $3.100, Daily GPI prices show.
Until now and the end of the coming weekend, gas-weighted heating degree days will “remain far above average for this time of year,” Weissman said. “By next week, though, temperatures will moderate significantly, with cash prices and futures potentially falling by 15 cents or more over the next two to three weeks.”
April crude oil futures were down 55 cents to $56.01/bbl shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, while April RBOB gasoline was up fractionally to $1.7684/gal.