As analysts noted tightening daily balances and some supportive cooling demand in the South the next few days, natural gas futures were trading slightly higher early Wednesday. The June Nymex futures contract was up 2.6 cents to $2.601/MMBtu at around 8:30 a.m. ET.
A “decent wave of heat” in the southern United States in the next few days accounts for the highest daily weather-driven demand levels expected over the 15-day forecast period, and overnight data did little to change the overall outlook, according to Bespoke Weather Services.
After the near-term heat, demand eases for the rest of the 15-day window, with some above-normal cooling degree days in the South countered by below-normal heating degree days in the northern part of the country, the forecaster said.
“Data this morning in our view again looks a little more bullish than we saw yesterday,” Bespoke said. “Burns were revised decently tighter yesterday, with production levels remaining well off their highs even after revisions.”
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports also ticked higher in Wednesday morning’s data, according to the forecaster.
“All of this suggests risk to current price levels is to the upside, though a lot will depend on today’s cash prints,” Bespoke said. “...Highest weather demand comes the next couple of days before falling off toward more normal levels into next week. Putting all of this together, we believe that any strength in cash today could easily allow June prices to get back to the $2.60 level with the improvements in the data observed this morning.”
The latest six- to 10-day forecast from Radiant Solutions Wednesday showed a pattern expected to retain above-normal temperatures in the Southeast.
“Ridging over this region will also support a stormy period in the Plains and Midwest, along its western periphery,” Radiant said. “Unsettledness and cool conditions also accompany an upper level low into the Southwest, with this feature being responsible for lowering confidence during the second half. Models disagree in its potential interaction with a northern trough at that time. Belows are forecast along the northern tier.”
Radiant said the overall themes remained the same for its updated 11-15 day outlook, although the forecaster noted a cool change over the East Coast early in the period.
“Slightly above normal temperatures are in the Southeast and Northwest, while cool support from high latitude blocking...has below normal temperatures in the Upper Midwest,” Radiant said. “Due to model disagreements stemming from earlier upper air interactions, the forecast holds onto an element of pattern persistence. Confidence, however, is lowered, with risks mostly leaning to the cooler side of the forecast.”
Natural gas futures have been trading in a narrow range this week, and the latest forecasts heading into Wednesday’s session offered little to alter the outlook, EBW Analytics Group CEO Andy Weissman said.
“But bearish forces are looming,” he said. “Between Week 1 and Week 3, power sector demand is expected to drop by more than 6 Bcf/d.”
This comes as Thursday’s Energy Information Administration storage report could show the first in a string of triple-digit injections, with builds potentially averaging close to 5 Bcf/d more than the five-year average even with near-normal weather, according to Weissman.
“While support is unlikely to crumble quickly, natural gas could struggle to post any significant gains in the face of this onslaught,” he said. “Instead, while gas prices often rise as summer grows nearer, at least some additional losses are likely.”
June crude oil futures were off 42 cents to $63.49/bbl shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, while June RBOB gasoline was trading fractionally higher at $2.0754/gal.