Cooler forecast trends from the weekend weather models and some loosening in the fundamentals data helped push natural gas futures prices slightly lower in early Monday trading. Shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET, the Nymex July futures contract was off 1.9 cents to $2.368/MMBtu.
Bespoke Weather Services noted a generally cooler shift in the outlook from the weekend weather models, though the forecaster said gas-weighted degree days are tracking above normal over the next couple weeks thanks to heat expected for the final third of June.
“There has been a shift in the orientation of above normal temperatures, as the anomalous heat looks more focused farther north in the 11-15 day than it appeared on Friday,” Bespoke said. “We also have some notable model difference at the very end of the month into early July,” with the European model favoring a slightly hotter outlook compared to the American model, which is “quick to take the heat ridge back out west and begin cooling the eastern half of the nation.”
Recent fundamentals data was looking looser heading into Monday’s session, according to Bespoke.
“Production trended higher over the weekend to the highest levels we have seen so far this month, getting within 0.5 Bcf of the highs from late March,” the firm said. “Weekend burns saw bearish revisions as well, which when combined with the higher production has sent daily balances back in the looser direction, at least for now.”
Radiant Solutions noted cooler changes in the Midwest and East in its latest six- to 10-day forecast Monday, which the forecaster attributed to a “more firmly negative” North Atlantic Oscillation and Arctic Oscillation pattern.
“The resulting troughing over the East at the onset has belows early moderating to near normal temperatures in the latter part of the period,” Radiant said. “Meanwhile, the Midwest peaks above normal under a ridge early, then warms again late as ridging rebuilds overhead.”
Radiant’s 11-15 day outlook, meanwhile, “undergoes a mix of changes” compared to the previous forecast, “trending cooler in the East and warmer in the Central/West.
“All models support the buildup of a strong ridge over the Central U.S. during the period, but differ in the placement of the ridge axis, with the Euro having the ridge over the Midwest” and other models showing it “further west over the Rockies and Plains,” Radiant said. “The forecast takes a middle ground at this time, favoring aboves from the Southwest to the Plains and Midwest and keeping the South and East near normal.”
Meanwhile, Friday’s 6.2-cent rally for the front month contract could be a sign that a bottom has been established at current levels, according to EBW Analytics Group.
The trading action to close out last week “suggests that bulls have decided that a bottom is probably in place, and that it’s time to step back into the market in hopes that natural gas will rally as mid-summer heat approaches -- as it has done frequently in recent years,” EBW CEO Andy Weissman said.
“This strategy could prove to be valid. While temperatures are still moderate over much of the country,” cooling demand, as well as demand from the power sector, “are starting to slowly increase, consistent with seasonal norms. By the second week of July, demand for gas could increase by as much as 7-8 Bcf/d from recent levels -- potentially pushing up the price of the August contract by as much as 20-30 cents.”
Just after 8:30 a.m. ET, July crude oil futures were trading 42 cents lower at $52.09/bbl, while July RBOB gasoline was off about 1.7 cents to $1.7160/gal.